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Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.

The classic formula when requesting forgiveness is (1) to acknowledge the offense, (2) to express regret for the pain caused, (3) and to promise not to repeat the offense.


  • Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
  • Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn't develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counterviolence. This generates even more violence—the problem never goes away. So that is one level. Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn't solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that's the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.
  • Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future.
    • Paul Lewis Boese, in Quote : The Weekly Digest, Vol. 53, No. 8, p. 146 (19 February 1967)
  • Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
  • Forgiveness is an absolute necessity for continued human existence.
    • Desmond Tutu, as quoted in Pastoral Care for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Healing the Shattered Soul (2002) by Dalene Fuller Rogers and Harold G Koenig, p. 31
  • The fairest action of our human life
    Is scorning to revenge an injury
    For who forgives without a further strife,
    His adversary's heart to him doth tie:
    And 'tis a firmer conquest, truly said,
    To win the heart than overthrow the head.
    • Lady Elizabeth Carew, chorus from "Maxiam"
  • His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims (1876), Greatness
  • Bear and forbear.
    • Epictetus. See Gellius, Book XVII. 6
  • Æquum est
    Peccatis veniam poscentem reddere rursus.
    • It is right for him who asks forgiveness for his offenses to grant it to others.
    • Horace, Satires, I. 3. 74
  • For 'tis sweet to stammer one letter
    Of the Eternal's language; — on earth it is called Forgiveness!
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Children of the Lord's Supper, line 214
  • These evils I deserve, and more
    * * * * * *
    Justly, yet despair not of his final pardon,
    Whose ear is ever open, and his eye
    Gracious to re-admit the suppliant.
    • John Milton, Samson Agonistes (1671), line 1,170
  • Forgiveness is better than revenge.
    • Pittacus, quoted by Heraclitus
  • Humanum amare est, humanum autem ignoscere est.
    • To love is human, it is also human to forgive.
    • Plautus, Mercator, II. 2. 46
  • Good-nature and good-sense must ever join;
    To err is human, to forgive, divine.
    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1709), line 522
  • What if this cursed hand
    Were thicker than itself with brother's blood
    Is there not rain enough in the sweet heaves
    To wash it white as snow?
    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act III, scene 3, line 43
  • I pardon him, as God shall pardon me.
    • William Shakespeare, Richard II (c. 1595), Act V, scene 3, line 131
  • Tout comprendre rend tres-indulgent.
    • To understand makes one very indulgent.
    • Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, Corinne (1807), Book XVIII, Chapter V
  • Behold affronts and indignities which the world thinks it right never to pardon, which the Son of God endures with a Divine meekness! Let us cast at the feet of Jesus that false honor, that quick sense of affronts, which exaggerates every thing, and pardons nothing, and, above all, that devilish determination in resenting injuries.
    • Queen Elizabeth, p. 252
  • "Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean." - Dag Hammarskjold
  • "Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it" - Mark Twain

Christian Quotes

Forgiveness is offered to a sinner or villain. God, being without sin, can forgive sins; also, the Son of God had the authority to forgive sins - even before his crucifixion. Lesser mortals have the option of forgiving an offense: indeed, it is taking the moral high road to do so, and Jesus commanded it (even 70 x 7 times):

Again Jesus said [to the disciples], "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. John 20:21-23 (KJV)
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV)
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took [him] by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Matthew 18:21-35 (KJV)
  • "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us."
    • The Lord's Prayer

Is forgiveness free, or does it come at the price of some sort of apology? Can even Christ forgive those who do not repent?

Forgiveness usually results in freedom from punishment. It is safe to confess to a forgiving person, because the confession will not make one "guilty" but actually lead to a remission of guilt.

[This point is often poorly understood by non-Christians. Associating guilt and confession with "justice" and "discipline", non-Christians generally expect any evidence of wrongdoing to correspond to punishment and will accordingly avoid confession like the plague.]

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