How to Get Someone to Forgive You

5 Biblical Ways To Help Someone Forgive You

how to get someone to fogive you

Luke 17:3-4, Colossians 3:12-17

How do you get someone to forgive you? As hard as we try not to, we all sin against those we love. Sometimes it is difficult for them to forgive us.

Whether it’s because we keep sinning against them the same way or because the sin we confessed was so hurtful (like cheating/adultery), there are times in life when we will confess our sins to those we have hurt, but they will struggle to forgive us.

Thankfully the Bible talks a lot about forgiveness. Here are five truths found in Scripture that will help answer the questions, “How do I get someone to forgive me?”

 

1.How to Get Someone to Forgive You: Ask for Forgiveness, But Don’t Force It Because Forgiveness is Their Choice

Biblically speaking, it’s actually impossible “to get someone to forgive you” or “make someone forgive you.” True forgiveness, like love, is always a choice each individual must make within their own heart. Our relationship with God should be the blueprint for our relationship with others.

When we sin against God, we don’t “get” or “make” Jesus forgive us. Jesus forgives us because he chooses to, because he desires it, and because it is his character to offer grace when we don’t deserve it.

When we try to force people to forgive us, it hardens their heart even more towards us. The first thing we should do when we want forgiveness is ask the person we sinned against. The next thing we must do is allow them the freedom to do whatever they decide to do. Even if they don’t forgive us when we ask, which is against God’s command, we must allow them the freedom to do what they want. We can’t shove the Bible back in their face and expect them to jump at the opportunity to have affectionate and warm feelings towards us.

Notice the burden God places on the one sinned against in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” God instructs the person who was wronged to go out of their way to seek reconciliation. Of course the offender should pursue it as well (Colossians 3:13), but God speaks to the offended.

Therefore, to get someone to forgive you, you must allow that person the time they need to obey God on their own free choice.

2.How to Get Someone to Forgive You: Truly Repent and Be Genuine

Again, God has placed the burden of reconciliation on both the offender and the offended, so no one can do something to force the other party to forgive. But it sure helps the human heart move on from being offended when the offender is truly repenting and is genuinely sorry for their sins. Ephesians 4:22-25, 29 states:

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another…. 29Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

The above verses explain that what we do can positively and negatively affect other people. When we throw off the old man and put on the new man, we are then able to put away falsehood, speak the truth in love, and speak words that help build others up.

Only when we are repenting, forsaking the sinful nature, and seeking to live from the new nature in Christ will we be of any service in helping others love and obey God. If you are still living in your sin, you will be of no help to the person you want forgiveness from.

3.How to Get Someone to Forgive You: Focus on Yourself and Receive the Rebuke

In Luke 17:3-4 Jesus instructs us to, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

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Again, to help others we must pay attention to ourselves. Additionally, we must receive the rebuke from others well. When we sin against someone, it is their biblical right to loving rebuke us. This does not mean they have the freedom to blast us, to be rude to us, or to sinfully judge us (which would be judging our hearts rather than our actions). But they are to righteously judge our external sins (1 Corinthians 5:12-13) and rebuke us when we error against him or her (Luke 17:3).

We must allow them their biblical right to correct us because we then have the biblical right to be forgiven. God tells the person who is wronged to rebuke AND to forgive. If we as the offender want the forgiveness, we must also be willing to receive the loving rebuke.

4.How to Get Someone to Forgive You: Allow Them To Be Angry

There is an anger that is not sin. Ephesians 4:26 explains, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

God gets angry over sin (Colossians 3:6). There is a time and place for Christians to do the same. When we hurt, violate, misuse, and sin against someone, it is a right response on their part to have a righteous anger over this.

However, God does not remain angry if the sinner repents and relies on the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is always looking for ways to be reconciled to his enemies. Christians are called to do the same.

Ephesians 4:26 explains that there is a righteous anger, but is also explains that Christians must not linger and hold on to any anger for an extended period of time. If we want people to forgive us, we must allow them the time to be righteously anger over our sins against them so that they can then move on, forgive us, and “not let the sun go down” on their anger against us.

5.How to Get Someone to Forgive You: Pray for Them

Lastly and most importantly, if we want someone to forgive us, we must pray for them. Romans 8:26-27 states:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

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When someone’s heart is hard towards us, we are completely powerless to change this. People have no power over other people’s hearts. Changing the heart of man belongs solely to the Holy Spirit. He alone has the power to change our hearts, to soften our hearts, and to heal our hearts.

When someone won’t forgive us, it is the most powerless feeling in the world. After we have asked for forgiveness, the only thing left to do, and the most important thing to do, is to pray for the person we have hurt. We may not even know what to pray, “but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

So how do you get someone to forgive you? We must accept that forgiveness is their choice, give them the freedom to follow God without forcing it, we must genuinely repent, and we must depend on God in prayer to do only what he can do: heal and change the human heart.

 

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10 thoughts on “How to Get Someone to Forgive You

  1. Thank you so much for this article on what to do when someone won’t forgive you. I am going through that in my life right now. And it is by 3 people that are close as in family. I have done wrong and have sincerely asked for forgiveness. I also have ask the Lord for forgiveness and I KNOW that the Lord has forgiven me. I trust what is word says that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.
    It is a big struggle for me cause they not only won’t forgive me but they do everything they can to hurt and punish me for what I did. I have done all that I know of to try to get them to forgive me but after reading your article you have lead me to know that all I can do is still love them and pray for them. It is hard to deal with the hate and hurts they are now putting on me but I see I just have to turn them over to the Lord and the Holy Spirit will have to deal with them.
    I also hurt for them because I believe the whole Bible and I believe it when it says, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I don’t want them to be lost because they have unforgiveness in their hearts,
    So I am having to forgive them for how they are hurting me now. This is hard as they continue to hurt me and everyday I have to just remind myself that I forgive them for what they are doing to me and to continue to put it in the Lord’s hands. I don’t want an unforgiving spirit in me. Because as I interpret Jesus’s words I see it as a sin to be unforgiving.

    So thanks so much for your words of comfort to me today.
    John

    • John, thank you so much for sharing this. It sounds like a very difficult season, but it also sounds like the Lord is near to you during this trying time. It sounds like you are thinking very clearly and biblically about this. I especially like how you are intentionally forgiving them for them not forgiving you. This can be a big source of bitterness if we do not choose to forgive even when others are not forgiving us. I hope in time reconciliation can happen.

      Thanks again for sharing and God bless,
      Mark
      Mark

  2. Thank you for this. I am struggling with having hurt a friend so much that they might not return to the relationship, and it was my own fault. I have said all the words that I can, changed the habits that I can, and now it is so hard to wait, but, as you wrote so well, it’s out of my hands. I can only hope that they will be willing and able to forgive this new person I am working so hard to be. You explained everything so well, and beautifully, that it is just what I needed. Thank you.

    • You are so welcome, thank you for sharing. Keep praying and depending on the Lord and he will show you what to do next. You are obviously taking full responsibility and moving forward, which is the only thing you can do. God will honor this in your life. We certainly don’t know what will happen, but whenever we seek to obey the Lord and do the right thing even when it’s hard, God honors this.

      In Christ,
      Mark

      • I have been so lucky to have heard from this friend again on the phone, after many months, partly due to both of us going through some difficult situations in recent weeks, separately, of course. It is early days still, but I am so hopeful, and so grateful we are both safe and sound. I kept this website bookmarked all these months, hoping that somehow it would help make a difference in my situation, and maybe it did. Thank you again for your kind words, Mark, and I hope my small moment of good fortune can be paid forward and help someone else who is still waiting to hear from a loved one.

  3. I sinned against this person. And I have seen how disgusting and low I can be. I am disgusted at myself and humiliated. I have lost any respect I had for myself. The guilt and shame is overwhelming. I cannot look at the reflection of myself in the mirror. I cannot eat, the person’s rightful anger haunts me when I try. It makes me vomit. My hands started trembling and my lungs and heart feels like they are being crushed. I am becoming weaker every day.
    The person has proof of what I did, because I was forced into admitting what I did and I confessed everything. I may be exposed to everyone if the person wants to ruin me completely. And everyone will leave me.
    I am scared, and I am disgusted and so embarrassed of myself.
    I have left God for many years, but I have come back to him because I have nowhere else to go.
    God is my only hiding place and refuge. I am confessing my sins and I am begging God to pour his mercy and grace over me.
    But until I receive forgiveness from the person, I will never be free from the guilt, shame, embarrassment and fear. The person is not a faithful christian either. But I am begging God to pour his grace onto the person as well so that the person may forgive me. I need God’s miracle.
    Please pray for this situation. Please pray for me. Please pray for the person.
    I need people of faith to pray for me.

    • “Lord, help him/her to experience the total forgiveness you offer us regardless if others forgive us. Our sin is ultimately against you (Psalm 51:4), so you are always the one we need forgiveness from first and foremost. Please bring restoration if possible to this relationship and healing to everyone involved. Thank you for your grace, in Jesus name, Amen.”
      (1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1)

      -Mark

  4. I did wrong by my four children when I was a single mom and living a life of sin. This happened just about 10 years ago and I am still hoping my older two kids forgive me. I have confessed and repented of that sinful lifestyle and desire to only live righteously. This has been terribly lonely and painful. I tried not to say the words “I’m sorry” over and over but rather tried to demonstrate in my actions that I was sorry. I thought my daughter had forgiven me but alas she is harboring deep resentment toward me and this is breaking my heart as she is pregnant with my grandbaby. The father of this baby is a severe drug addict and I am so concerned about everything. I’m trying to believe the promises I’ve received in the Word but I guess I’m still struggling. Please pray for me. Thank you.

    • I will certainly pray for you. I believe you are doing the right thing by not “forcing” their forgiveness. For them to be angry and still upset is normal. Forgiveness can happen in a moment but it often takes years for feelings of forgiveness to arrive. It’s hard to not live by feelings.

      My best advice would be to respect what your daughter wants even if it is unwise. For her to allow you into her life, she will need to make that choice for herself and she won’t do that if she feels any negativity or forcefulness from you. Radical acceptance will go along way. It won’t be easy because it sounds as though she is making bad choices in life. But again, if you show disapproval of her, she will not let you into her life. You have to earn the right to offer advice, and it seems at this point she has not given you that right. Work on the relationship before addressing the way she is living.

      I’ll pray for you,
      -Mark