• Surely it is much more generous to forgive and remember, than to forgive and forget.
    • Maria Edgeworth, "An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification"; Tales and Novels, vol. 1, p. 213.

  • I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
    But my will gets weak
    And my thoughts seem to scatter
    But I think it's about forgiveness
    Even if, even if you don't love me anymore.

  • I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
    Because the flesh will get weak
    And the ashes will scatter
    So I'm thinkin' about forgiveness
    Even if you don't love me anymore.
    • Don Henley, in "The Heart of the Matter"

  • It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.

  • Always forgive your enemies — nothing annoys them so much.
    • Oscar Wilde, quoted in The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958) by Fritz Heider, p. 269

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • To do evil for good is human corruption; to do good for good is civil retribution; but to do good for evil is Christian perfection. Though this be not the grace of nature, it is the nature of grace.
    • Archbishop Secker, p. 251.

  • Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares to forgive an injury.
    • Edwin Hubbell Chapin, p. 251.

  • By experience; by a sense of human frailty; by a perception of "the soul of goodness in things evil;" by a cheerful trust in human nature; by a strong sense of God's love; by long and disciplined realization of the atoning love of Christ; only thus can we get a free, manly, large, princely spirit of forgiveness.
    • F. W. Robertson, p. 252.

  • In what a delightful communion with God does that man live who habitually seeketh love! With the same mantle thrown over him from the cross — with the same act of amnesty, by which we hope to be saved — injuries the most provoked, and transgressions the most aggravated, are covered in eternal forgetfulness.
    • Elias Lyman Magoon, p. 252.

  • 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.

  • A more glorious victory cannot be gained over another man than this, that when the injury began on his part, the kindness should begin on ours.
    • Tillotson, p. 252.

  • For still in mutual sufferance lies The secret of true living; Love scarce is love that never knows The sweetness of forgiving.
    • J. G. Whittier, p. 252.

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  • "Assuming you're not pregnant, in jail, and there's no body in your basement, I don't think I'll mind." - Alex Keyes
  • "Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future" - Paul Boese
  • "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
  • "Forgiveness is the last resort, after victory seems impossible, or trivial" - Anonymous
  • "He who forgives ends the quarrel." - Anonymous
  • "If one knows thee not or a blind man scolds thee, do not become angry." - Anonymous (claimed to be an African proverb by The Journal of Negro History, Vol. I. Jan. 1916
  • "Parents may forgive their child anything, but life won't." - Leonid S. Sukhorukov, All About Everything (2005)
  • "To understand is not only to pardon, but in the end to love." - Walter Lippmann
  • Revenge is the most sincere form of forgiveness. - Italian Proverb.
  • "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." - Mahatma Gandhi


  • “He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me’ -- in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease.” (Dhammapada 1.3-4; trans. Radhakrishnan)
  • "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." - Buddha
  • “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.” (Quoting the Dalai Lama)

Biblical texts

Key Biblical texts on the subject of forgiveness include (here quoted from the New International Version):
  • "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)
  • "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)
  • "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14).
  • "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." (Luke 11:4)
  • "Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times (or seventy times seven).'" (Matthew 18:21-22)
  • "In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matthew 18:34-35)
  • "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:25)
  • "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." (Luke 6:37)
  • "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." (Luke 17:3)
  • "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)
  • "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" (Luke 23:34)

Other quotes related to Christianity

Among the Protestant Reformers, John Wesley stated that forgiveness is an "...act of God the Father, hereby, for the sake of the propitiation made by the blood of his Son, he 'showeth forth his righteousness (or mercy)...'". 1 2.
  • "That he that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man had need to be forgiven."
    • Lord Herbert, The Life of Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury

  • "They who forgive most shall be most forgiven."
    • Philip James Bailey, Festus

  • "The brave only know how to forgive."
    • Laurence Sterne, sermon Joseph's History Considered

  • 'The gospel comes to the sinner at once with nothing short of complete forgiveness as the starting-point of all his efforts to be holy. It does not say, "Go and sin no more, and I will not condemn thee." It says at once, "Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more."'
    • Horatius Bonar

  • Meekness is the grace which, from beneath God's footstool, lifts up a candid and confiding eye, accepting God's smile of Fatherly affection, and adoring those perfections which it cannot comprehend.
    • James Hamilton, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 407.

  • "Life, that ever needs forgiveness, has, for its first duty, to forgive."
    • Lytton

  • "Alas! if my best Friend, who laid down His life for me, were to remember all the instances in which I have neglected Him, and to plead them against me in judgment, where should I hide my guilty head in the day of recompense? I will pray, therefore, for blessings on my friends, even though they cease to be so, and upon my enemies, though they continue such."
    • Cowper

  • "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us."
    • The Lord's Prayer

  • "God's way of forgiving is thorough and hearty,—both to forgive and to forget; and if thine be not so, thou hast no portion of His."
    • Leighton

Verses from the Qur'an

  • Indeed! God does not forgive the sin of ascribing partners to Him, but He forgives anything else to whom He pleases, and whoever takes partners with God has gone astray into far error. Qur'an 4:116
  • The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah. Qur'an 42:40
  • O You who believe! Behold, among your spouses and your children are enemies unto you: so beware of them! But if you pardon [their faults], and forbear, and forgive- then, behold, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Qur'an 64:14

Traditions of the Prophet

  • Abu Kabsha 'Ameri reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
… and no man pardons an oppression seeking thereby the pleasure of Allah but Allah will increase his honor therewith on the Day of Resurrection ..

  • Oqbah Ibn 'Amer reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
you shall keep relationship with one who cut it off from you, you shall give one who disappointed you, and you shall pardon on who oppressed you

  • Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
Moses son of 'Imran had asked: O my Lord! Who is the best honorable of Thy servants to Thee? He [the God] said: He who pardons when he is in a position of power.

  • Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Messenger of Allah taught his followers:
Narrating the account of one of the prophets [of Allah] whom was assaulted and wounded by his people; while wiping the blood from the face he prayed: 'O Allah! Forgive my people because they do not know.


  • “It is forbidden to be obdurate and not allow yourself to be appeased. On the contrary, one should be easily pacified and find it difficult to become angry. When asked by an offender for forgiveness, one should forgive with a sincere mind and a willing spirit. . . forgiveness is natural to the seed of Israel. (Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah 2:10)

  • If one who has been wronged by another does not wish to rebuke or speak to the offender – because the offender is simple or confused – then if he sincerely forgives him, neither bearing him ill-will nor administering a reprimand, he acts according to the standard of the pious. (Deot 6:9)

  • Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand. (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9.4)
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