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Forgiveness Quotations

The following is a growing list of forgiveness quotations.  If you know of any quotations on forgiveness not included here please send us an e-mail or click here.

Hannah Arendt

Without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we 
have done, our capacity to act would, as it were, be confined to a single 
deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever, not unlike the sorcerer’s apprentice, who lacked 
the magic formula to break the spell.


Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.


Forgiveness is the scent that the rose leaves on
the heel that crushes it.

John Arnott

Grace is getting something that you don’t deserve; and mercy is not getting something that you do deserve.    

Francis Bacon

This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps
his wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.

Josiah Bailey

They who forgive most shall be most forgiven.

William Blake

The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.

Henry Ward Beecher

God pardons like a mother, who kisses the
offense into everlasting forgiveness.


I can forgive, but I cannot forget" is only another way of saying, "I will not forgive."
Forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note--torn in two and burned up so that it never can be shown against one.


Paul Boese

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it
does enlarge the future.

Les Brown

Forgive yourself for your faults and your mistakes
and move on.

E. H. Chapin

Never does the human soul appear so strong as when is foregoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.


To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.

Course in Miracles©

I could see peace instead of this.


As forgiveness allows love to return to my awareness, I will see a world 
of peace and safety and joy.


Do you prefer that you be right or happy?

Norman Cousins 

Life is an adventure in forgiveness.

John Dryden

Reason to rule, mercy to forgive: The first is law, the last prerogative.

Louis Dudek

What is forgiven is usually well remembered.

Earl of Chesterfield

Little vicious minds abound with anger and revenge and are incapable of feeling te pleasure of forgiving their enemies.

Ephesians 1:7

In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace.


Forgiveness is better than revenge, for forgiveness is the sign of a gentle nature, but revenge is the sign of a savage nature. 

Isaac Friedmann 

Forgiveness is the sweetest revenge.

Malcolm Forbes 

Keeping score of old scores and scars, getting even and one-upping, always makes you less than you are.

Robert  Frost 

If one by one we counted people out

For the least sin, it wouldn't take us long

To get so we had no one left to live with.

For to be social is to be forgiving.

Mahatma Gandhi

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

If we practice and eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, soon the whole
world will be blind and toothless.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe 

If a good person does you wrong, act as though you had not noticed it.
They will make note of this and not remain in your debt long.

Dag Hammarskjold 

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.

Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who forgives you -- out of love -- takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done. Forgiveness, therefore, always entails a sacrifice.

Sidney J. Harris 

A winner rebukes and forgives; a loser is too
timid to rebuke and too petty to forgive

Seamus Heaney

Hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and 
healing wells.

George Herbert 

He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which
he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven;
for everyone has need to be forgiven.


Seeing with better eyes "We can recognize that the offender 
is a valuable human being who struggles with the same needs, 
pressures, and confusions that we struggle with. We will recognize 
that the incident really may not have been about us in the first place. 
Instead it was about the wrongdoer’s misguided attempt to meet his 
or her own needs. 
As we regard offenders from this point of view 
(regardless of whether they repent and regardless of what
they have done or suffered), 
we will be in a position to forgive them.

Elbert Hubbard

The ineffable joy of forgiving and being forgiven forms an ecstasy that might well arouse the envy of the gods.

Kim Hubbard 

Nobody ever forgets where he buried the hatchet.

Dolores Huerta

If you haven't forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others?


There is nothing that in the end, cannot be forgiven, 
but there remains much that is inexcusable. 


We easily pardon an offense we had part in.


The supreme act of courage is that of forgiving ourselves. 
That which I was not but could have been. 
That which I would have done but did not do. 
Can I find the fortitude to remember in truth,
to understand, to submit, to forgive 
and to be free to move on in time? 

Martin Luther King 

Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.

Ann Landers

One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything every night before you go to bed.  

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

One pardons to the degree that one loves.


He who has not forgiven an enemy has never
yet tasted one of the most sublime enjoyments of life.

C.S. Lewis

Everyone says that forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

If we could read the secret history of our enemies,
we would find in each person's life sorrow and
suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

Luke 11:3-4

...and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.

Luke 23:34

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

John MacArthur

  Forgiveness unleashes joy.  It brings peace.  It washes the slate clean.  It sets all the highest values of love in motion.  In a sense, forgiveness is Christianity at its highest level.  

George MacDonald

It may be infinitely worse to refuse to forgive than to murder, because 
the latter may be an impulse of a moment of heat; whereas the former 
is a cold and deliberate choice of the heart.

George MacDonald

Forgiveness is the giving and so the receiving of life.


Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.

Josh McDowell 

Forgiveness is the oil of relationships.

Matthew 18:21-22

You have learned how it was said:   Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. 
But I say this to you:  offer the wicked man no resistance.  On the 
contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well.

Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter went up to him and said, "Lord, how often must I forgive my 
brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?   Jesus answered, 
"Not seven, I tell you, but seventy seven times."

Thomas Merton

We do not really know how to forgive until we know what it is to be forgiven. 
Therefore we should be glad that we can be forgiven by others. It is our 
forgiveness of one another that makes the love of Jesus manifest in our lives, 
for in forgiving one another we act towards one another 
as He has acted towards us.

Hannah More

Forgiveness is the economy of the heart...forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred and the waste of spirits.

Robert Muller 

To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive
untold peace and happiness.

Reinhold Niebuhr 

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime;
Therefore, we are saved by hope.
Nothing true or beautiful of good makes complete sense in any 
immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone;
Therefore we are saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or 
foe as from our own;
Therefore we are saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

Henri Nouwen

It is freeing to become aware that we do not have to be victims of our past 
and can learn new ways of responding. But there is a step beyond 
this recognition... It is the step of forgiveness. Forgiveness is love 
practiced among people who love poorly. It sets us free without 
wanting anything in return.

Carolyn Osiek 

It is not "forgive and forget" as if nothing wrong had ever happened, but "forgive and go forward," building on the mistakes of the past and the energy generated by reconciliation to create a new future.

Alan Paton 

God forgives us. ... Who am I not to forgive?  


 You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstances instead
  of rage, you tend to feel  sorry for the person rather than
  angry with him.  You tend to have nothing left to remember
  to say about it all.  You understand the suffering that drove
  the offense to begin with.   You are not waiting for anything.
You are not wanting anything.  There is no lariat snare around
your ankle stretching from way back there to here.  You are
  free to go.  It may not have turned out to be a happily ever
  after,  but most certainly there is now a fresh Once upon
  a time waiting for you from this day forward.

Alexander Pope 

To err is human, to forgive is divine.

Helen Prejean, csj

In our society, forgiveness is often seen as weakness.  People who 
forgive those who have hurt them or their family are made to look as if 
they really don't care about their loved ones.  But forgiveness is tremendous strength.  It is the action of someone who refuses to be consumed by
hatred and revenge.


Never repeat old grievances.


A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the full 
value of time and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.

Sogyal Rinpoche

All religions stress the power of forgiveness,
and this power is never more deeply felt than
when someone is dying.
Through forgiving and being forgiven, we purify ourselves
of the darkness of what we have done, and prepare ourselves
most completely for the journey through death.


Mercy has many arms.

Saint Francis of Assisi 

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

William Shakespeare

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the heart of kings, 
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.


Though justice be
Thy plea, consider this:
That in the course of justice
none of us should see salvation.
We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer

doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

George Bernard Shaw 

The secret of forgiving everything is to understand nothing.

Henry Wheeler Shaw 

It is a very delicate job to forgive a man,
without lowering him in his own estimation, and yours too.

Lewis Smedes

You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.

Laurence Sterne 

Only the brave know how to forgive; it is the most refined and
generous pitch of virtue human nature can arrive at.

Koran Sura 

He who forgiveth, and is reconciled unto his enemy,
shall receive his reward from God; for he loveth not the unjust doers.

Thomas Stephen Szasz

The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive and do not forget.

Paul Tillich

There is no condition for forgiveness.


Genuine forgiveness is participation, reunion overcoming the powers of
estrangement. . . We cannot love unless we have accepted forgiveness, and the
deeper our experience of forgiveness is, the greater is our love.

Bishop Desmond Tutu

It is one of the things about forgiveness you have to remember. It is not
spiritual. It is part of real politics.

In forgiving, people are not being asked to forget. On the contrary, it is important to remember, so that we should not let such atrocities happen again. Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done. It means taking what happened seriously...drawing out the sting in the memory that threatens our entire existence.

Mark Twain

Forget and forgive. This is not difficult when properly understood.
It means forget inconvenient duties, then forgive yourself for forgetting.
By rigid practice and stern determination, it comes easy.

Peter Ustinov 

Love is an act of endless forgiveness.

Jean Vanier

When we judge, we are pushing people away; we are creating a wall, a barrier.  When we forgive we are destroying barriers, we come closer to others.

William H. Walton

To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.

Simon Wiesenthal

Forgetting is something that time takes care of, but forgiveness is an act of volition, and only the sufferer is qualified to make the decision.

William Carlos Williams

What power has love but forgiveness? In other words by its intervention what has been done can be undone. What good is it otherwise?

Charles Williams 

Many promising reconciliations have broken down because while both parties come prepared to forgive, neither party come prepared to be forgiven.

Marianne Williamson

Forgiveness does not mean that we suppress anger; forgiveness means that we have asked for a miracle:  the ability to see through mistakes that someone has made to the truth that lies in all of our hearts. Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. Attack thoughts towards others are attack thoughts towards ourselves. The first step in forgiveness is the willingness to forgive.

Dan Zadra 

Resentment is one burden that is incompatible with your success. Always be the first to forgive; and forgive yourself first always.