One of life’s toughest challenges is overcoming the anger and hurt of being mistreated by someone, especially someone we love, like family members. Imperfect people say and do awful and damaging things.
As Christians, we hear so much about forgiveness and the need to forgive, so let’s get to it! Join me on this walk through a short Bible study on forgiveness.
Forgiveness is HARD and Messy
Forgiveness sounds good in theory, but often feels insurmountable when you’ve been cheated on by your spouse, or deceived by your supposed best friend, robbed by your child, or abused by your parent.
Our natural response is to hold onto the bitterness, even while it eats away at us inside.
We seem to hold tight to the anger and the hurt, waiting for apologies that often never come. Does that mean we’re stuck in perpetual angst? To stay broken until an apology magically rights the wrong?
An apology is nice but it’s not the secret ingredient to righting the wrong. In fact, there’s nothing that really rights the wrong, however time and sustained changed behavior can smooth over the torn edges of damaged relationships.
Short Bible Study on Forgiveness
So what’s the balm to soothe your ailing heart?
Let’s take a walk through a bible study on forgiveness. Let the following lesson on forgiveness from the perspective of God’s great love help you work through your hard time.
Forgiveness is a Gift. Really.
Forgiveness is a magical salve. Forgiveness is a gift for the hurting and is independent of the person who caused the pain.
But what if the person wasn’t sorry? What if they never apologized or acknowledged hurting you? What if they blamed their actions on you?
What if…. None of the ‘what ifs’ matter in regard to forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiveness allows you to move on from the hurt and pain, to enjoy life without dragging around a mountain of anger and sadness.
Forgiveness with God’s Help
Forgiveness isn’t easy but with God’s power and by God’s help, you can make the right choice and step up to the challenge.
We have God’s forgiveness and examples of biblical forgiveness as our guiding light to help us overcome our past hurt and exchange the heavy weight for true forgiveness.
Forgiveness is Possible
The lessons included here are a bible study of examples of forgiving others.
As you know, there’s no magical formula for forgiving people under our own strength. But the good news is that finding power in God’s Word can help you do what seems impossible today.
Remember that Jesus Christ said in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Sometimes it’s easier to talk through your pain in the safety of a small group of like-minded Christians.
As a group, you can speak to the truth of the key verses that are discussed below and how they speak to your damaged relationship.
Lesson 1: Let God handle it.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[b] 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:17-21 NIV
Let God be the judge. Let God hold everyone to task for their faults and failings.
We’re called to take the high road and continue to love and help our enemies.
We’re called to overcome evil with good.
Does loving our enemies mean to continue to take abuse? Or continue to be used? No.
We’re called to be kind and loving and not hold onto grudges. We can stop being a punching bag or a pushover while remaining kind, loving, and strong.
Let God handle the burden of judgment. By handing the judgment over to God, we’re free to move on and live our lives with the joy He intended.
Lesson 2: Break the bars of your yoke.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high. - Leviticus 26:13 NIV
Forgiveness breaks the bars of our yoke. The burden of pulling a heavy load of anger becomes too much to bear.
It clouds our vision, it strains our ability to enjoy life, and it hampers our ability to love.
When we forgive, the bars of our yoke are broken, and we can walk away from the heavy load, enabling us to move forward with joy and lightheartedness and love.
This freedom allows us to walk with heads held high – proud and happy to move on and enjoy the gift of life as God intended.
Lesson 3: We are called to forgive.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. - Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
Forgiveness not only frees us from being captive to heavy grudges, but we are called to forgive.
God promises to forgive our sins and requires us to do the same for those who’ve wronged us. Why should we expect our own sin to be forgiven when we refuse to forgive those who’ve sinned against us?
We count on God to forgive us, but He requires us to do the same.
That’s God’s standard and it’s a very fair deal, I would say!
Remind yourself of this teaching of Jesus by praying the Lord’s Prayer.
As you pray, ‘forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors’, invite the Holy Spirit to help you forgive as you want to be forgiven.
Breathe in His healing Spirit and ask Him to release you from the bondage of your hurt and pain.
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts [trespasses], as we also have forgiven our debtors [those who trespass against us]. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ - Matthew 6:9-13 NIV
You might find this free Lord’s Prayer Devotional helpful for praying the Lord’s Prayer with more intention, particularly the part about forgiveness.
Lesson 4: Jesus is our example.
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. - Luke 23:34 NIV
Jesus showed us the greatest example of forgiveness by forgiving those who had falsely accused him and were putting him to death.
We don’t often think of his torture and agony, the sadness and abandonment he felt.
As a human being put to one of the most excruciating deaths, we can only imagine Jesus’ suffering, yet he forgave.
If we can only keep that perspective when we wallow in our pain, we can lean on Jesus to help us when we’ve been wronged.
His example shows us the way to survive the pain, the humiliation, and the deceit, and lead us to forgiveness.
Lesson 5: God’s greatest sacrifice was for our forgiveness.
2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. - 1 John 2:2 NIV
Besides Jesus dying for our sins, the greatest gift we’ve been given is God sending us his Son to atone for our sins and asking his only son to sacrifice his life for ours.
I don’t imagine that any parent could fathom such a sacrifice. But that’s how great God’s love is for us.
By calling his son to die for our sins, we are granted eternal life and forgiveness.
God watched his Son be tortured for our forgiveness, so perhaps we’re able to find one ounce of his strength to muster through our own journey to forgive.
He promises a beautiful reward.
How many times must we forgive?
Once we find the strength to forgive someone who’s wronged us it’s easier to see why Jesus said we are to continue to forgive. Not only seven times but seventy-seven times!
[Jesus used this instruction about forgiveness as the introduction to the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. You can find the Life Lessons from that parable HERE!]
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. - Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
Let time and distance soften your wounds instead of allowing them to harden into permanent scars. Once you understand the magical power of forgiveness to soothe your aching soul you’ll never try carrying that heavy burden again.
Bible Study on Forgiveness
Do you find comfort in the Bible verses about forgiveness? I pray that this short Bible Study on Forgiveness provided you with the encouragement you needed to bring your pain to God and finally put it behind you.