The entirety of the Christian gospel hinges on love, hope, redemption — and transformation. It's the topic of forgiveness, though, that captures the most attention, as Jesus' death on the cross for our sins is the most significant event to unfold in human history.
In addition to Christ's death and resurrection, forgiveness in the Bible comes in many forms, as forgiveness scriptures call human beings to forgive one another and to seek redemption for their own sins in the Lord. We are also called to forgive ourselves: because God forgave our sins, we should also let go of the hold they have on us.
In the second season of the series, "Going Home," hospice nurse Charley has some of her own grief and regret that she must work through herself. She's been unable to forgive herself for years for an accident that happened at the beginning of her nursing career. Throughout the season, we see her internal struggle to forgive herself and to bring this pain to God.
So, as we explore forgiveness in the Bible, here are some powerful Bible verses about forgiveness and redemption you'll want to consider in your own life:
Bible Verses about Forgiveness
Jeremiah 31:34 (NIV)
No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
This powerful Bible verse about forgiveness not only applies to the act of forgiving others but also the act of forgiving yourself. This scripture is an important lesson that we must all remember when living out our faith, because God's forgiveness is for all of His children. We are all provided His limitless grace and mercy when we accept Him into our lives.
This is also a lesson that Charley passes on to her patients at the Sunset House in "Going Home." When her patients talk to her about their regrets, she reminds them about forgiving one another and scripture verses on forgiveness. Through prayer and grace, her patients are able to reconcile these hurts before moving on.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
Forgiveness scriptures like this one call us to forgive others the same way God forgives us. This is a tall order and can be difficult, depending on what we must forgive.
For Charley in "Going Home," she wrestles with asking the parents of the child who died while in her care for forgiveness. The little boy's mother tells Charley that they forgave her long ago, knowing that what had happened in the hospital was in no way her own fault. The mother encourages Charley, saying that everyone - including God - has forgiven her for what happened.
Scripture is clear that we must offer grace and forgiveness, which can be difficult when struggling forgiving someone who has hurt us. Let us remember this scripture verse on forgiving others in those moments.
Acts 2:38 (NIV)
"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"
When people accept Jesus and say a forgiveness prayer, it is often the start of a renewed and refreshed life. A forgiveness prayer on its own — one that admits fault and seeks Jesus' help — is a good starting place for anyone who is looking to re-approach life with God at the center.
In "Going Home," once Charley knows the little boy's family has forgiven her, and God has forgiven her, she feels relieved enough to start fresh and renewed. In refocusing her efforts on the present and not feeling regret about the past, she's able to move on and focus on her relationship with God at the center.
Prayers about forgiveness can not only help ourselves reconcile pain and hurts we've experienced because of others, but also can help strengthen us when we need to ask others for forgiveness.
Daniel 9:9 (NIV)
"The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him."
Life can sometimes throw us some curveballs, but Daniel 9:9 reminds us of the powerful message of forgiveness in the Bible: that God is merciful toward us and loves us even when we have acted out against Him.
Many of Charley's patients, in "Going Home," enter the Sunset House with some pain or regret in their heart they would like to reconcile before moving on. In the second season, we meet a famous author of horror books, whose fan base is extremely loyal. Hannah worries God is upset with her life's work and is nervous about her final judgement. Charley encourages her, telling her that God loves us despite our faults and our sins. If we ask Him for forgiveness, He will belovingly do so.
Matthew 6:14 (NIV)
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
It's important to remember that forgiveness scriptures like Matthew 6:14 remind us that, since God forgives us, we, too, must offer forgiveness to those who have wronged us. This is an essential and convicting message for us all.
In episode 3 of "Going Home" season 2, a beloved pastor is admitted into the Sunset House. His wife admits to Charley that oftentimes, his work at the parish came before his family. His wife needs to forgive her husband for not always putting his family first and making her shoulder most of the family responsibility. She works through this with conversations with Charley, as well as with her husband and with God. In the end, she's able to be the strong one for her husband as he walks into his eternal home.
Luke 23:34 (NIV)
"Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' And they divided up his clothes by casting lots."
In the midst of Jesus' suffering, He offers a truly surprising forgiveness prayer for those afflicting Him. As they cause Him pain, He called out to God in one of the most amazing forgiveness scriptures in the Bible, proclaiming, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." That's a convicting message for us all.
This is especially a great Bible verse to remember when we have been hurt by someone else. There are times when others act and speak without thinking first, which can cause us hurt and pain. When that happens, we must remember "they do not know" that they hurt us and their actions caused us pain. We still are called to forgive even those who don't realize they hurt us.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Paul tells us in Ephesians that we must forgive one another and let go of rage, anger and slander, among other emotions and acts. People might harm us, but the message of forgiveness in the Bible calls us to respond in powerful and transformational ways.
In season 2 of "Going Home," the Sunset House admits patient Mason in episode 4. Mason is bitter and doesn't believe God has been there for him and looked out for him. He refuses medical treatment due to his bitterness and anger. Charley encourages him that, though he can't go back and change the past, he can accept help now and let go of the anger that holds such a tight grip on him. Slowly, Mason is able to find kindness towards himself and show signs of kindness to others. He learns that God has always been there, ready to receive him in His open arms, loving Mason exactly as he is. Mason forgives himself because he recognizes that God has forgiven him for his past.
Psalm 32:1 (NIV)
"Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered."
Psalm 32:1 is a forgiveness scripture that provides us with a reminder that we are blessed — and that our sins are forgiven.
Hospice nurse Charley reminds every patient she has during both season one and season two of "Going Home" that they are blessed despite whatever has happened in their past. The hardest are the patients who cannot forgive themselves - which is something Charley struggles with in the second season as well, for something that happened early on in her nursing career. Over the course of the season, she realizes the only one who still hasn't forgiven her is herself, and that God has already forgiven her as soon as He learned of what happened.
Acts 3:19 (NIV)
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."
We are reminded of the importance of forgiveness prayer and of redemption in Acts 3:19. We are told that repenting and turning to God will wipe our sins away and refresh us — and that this gift comes from the Lord. This is one of the simplest and yet most transformational forgiveness scriptures.
In "Going Home" season two, as part of their GriefShare program, Charley and Alec are asked to write a letter to God. This exercise is something we can all do at anytime - especially if we feel the need to ask for repentence for ourselves or for others. We can even practice being in silence and ask the Lord to respond to our letter and see if we can hear His answer. A letter to God not only can give us the words we need to ask for forgiveness, but also the space to forgive ourselves in the process.
Romans 12:20 (NIV)
"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.”
Last but not least comes Romans 12:20, another of the forgiveness scriptures worth discussing. Forgiveness in the Bible is clearly called for, but beyond that, we are called to love our enemies — and not only to love them, but to feed and nourish them. This is a powerful reminder of what it means to be a Christian.
And as we conclude, let's explore a simple forgiveness prayer (find out what it means when people say "Jesus died for us" as well). Here is a potential forgiveness prayer you can say — or, at the least, use as a template for your own invocation:
Father, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I have made mistakes. Please forgive me. Please help me to make changes in my life. Scripture tells us that You will guide and sustain us — and that You will give us the power to resist temptation. Please help me in this area. Lord, thank You for all You have done. In Jesus' name, Amen.
If you're looking to watch a touching movie or series about forgiveness, consider "Going Home" or "Touched By Grace." And if you're a parent looking to instill forgiveness scriptures in your kids, consider streaming "VeggieTales: God Wants Me To Forgive Them!?!"
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