What does the Bible say about forgiveness?

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr.

Jesus teaches us to pray and in that prayer, he tells us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

“And whenever you stand praying if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

The importance of forgiveness is so important, and the Bible has much to say about it. Here are some reasons why it is necessary that we forgive one another:

  1. God commands it.
  2. Jesus Christ has set the example of forgiveness for us.
  3. We must forgive one another because we ourselves have been forgiven.
  4. We must forgive one another in order that we may be forgiven in the future.

We should forgive as many times as necessary. At Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus teaches this, and at Luke 17:3-4 we are told, if necessary we are to forgive someone seven times in one day. Thus the Bible teaches that our forgiveness is to be unlimited.

There are many Bible examples for us to follow such as Joseph, David, Stephen, and the classic example is Jesus himself who even prayed for his enemies (Luke 23:34).

Forgiveness must be from the heart. It must be full and complete. We must not hold grudges, hatred, and malice in our hearts. Doing so, only hurts us.