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How To Forgive Without An Apology: Pre-Forgiveness

Can you forgive someone without an apology? The Bible shows us examples of how to forgive without an apology. Today we will see ways to apply this idea to our everyday lives.

The difference between a forgiving life and life being easily offended and holding onto hurt is like night and day. Freedom. Joy. Hope. They can be yours when you learn the skill of pre-forgiveness.

Why Should I Forgive Without An Apology?

As we have been learning about forgiveness there has been one thing that just doesn’t sink in deeply enough. Over and over again I hear it from you. “If I forgive, he gets away with it.” “If I forgive he will keep doing it.” “How can I trust him again after what he did? Forgiveness is impossible here.”

Forgiveness is NOT for your offender. It is not about your offender. Forgiveness is for you. It is about you.

To go deeper today, learning how to forgive without an apology, you have to allow this truth to go all the way to your heart.

Forgiveness Vs. Reconciliation: Understanding How To Forgive Without An Apology

Forgiveness does NOT mean you are to allow your offender to keep hurting you. This is not some religious guilt to force you to stay in an abusive relationship or a toxic relationship.

Are you in one of those? Get help. Find a godly counselor. Set boundaries. Have difficult conversations.

But also… forgive. Living a life of forgiveness is for YOUR benefit. Forgiving your offender does not let them off the hook for hurting you. It just gets you right with God and invites God into the situation to defend you. When you humble yourself, through forgiveness, you get into a posture God loves.

The process of reconciliation is separate from forgiveness. We will talk about that next, but for today, just know that if you hope to reconcile, you have to work through how to forgive.

How Can I Heal Without An Apology

When someone won’t apologize for hurting you, it is easy to think you do not need to forgive. It is easy to believe you can’t heal. But that is a lie from the enemy.

The work of healing is not done by people but by God. God heals our brokenness. Do you think His healing is limited by human words?

No! God heals us when we come to Him in a posture of humility, inviting Him into the hurt. That humility is forgiveness. To forgive without an apology does not forfeit healing.

In fact, think of how often you get an apology and still struggle to heal… struggle to believe it was genuine. One thing does not always lead to the other.

Easily Offended

Choosing to forgive does something humbling for our hearts. It brings in humility that we miss living in bitterness and anger.

Have you ever met someone who is easily offended? Everything feels like a personal attack on them. The smallest slight is blown up into huge drama. They are difficult to love, difficult to be around.

Learning to forgive without an apology sets us up to be less easily offended. It opens our hearts to see people as broken hurting humans loved by God. The truth is, that most people focus almost exclusively on their own thoughts and struggles. They are not intentionally trying to hurt us, even though unintentionally they do.

Less Easily Offended

Most people are not out to get you. In fact, they are not thinking about you much at all. So taking what they did or said personally is not accurate 90% of the time.

When you choose to forgive, you choose to be less easily offended by others.

When you choose to forgive, no matter what, you come to relationships in a posture of humility.

And when you take the next step and decide to forgive before someone offends you, that brings freedom to your heart like nothing else.

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Learning to Forgive Without An Apology

We have already seen so much about forgiveness that has helped us grow in faith:

  1. Why do we need to forgive?
  2. The benefits of forgiving. 7 Ways to Embrace the Power of Forgiveness
  3. Unforgiveness: What Happens When I Refuse To Forgive
  4. How knowing God as the Ancient of Days releases us to forgive.
  5. How To Forgive Others: 5 Characteristics of Spiritual Maturity You Need
  6. The 7 steps to forgive anything

To forgive without an apology, however, requires a choice. A pastor, years ago taught me about forgiving others before they offend me. Pre-forgiveness. Embracing this idea helped me learn how to genuinely grant forgiveness.

Pre-Forgiveness: Another Way To Say Forgive Without An Apology

Maybe the idea of Pre-Forgiveness is new to you. It was new to me.

I had always thought of forgiveness as a hard process, that worked out over time with much prayer. I  had never thought of it as a daily choice. Pre-forgiveness is a choice in how you answer the question.

Can you forgive someone who hasn’t asked for forgiveness? Yes. Pre-forgiveness is the way. Now, you may forgive, but the apology is a part of reconciling that relationship.

If they never apologize, you may not be able to stay in a relationship with them the same way. But you can forgive them and walk blameless before God.

To forgive without an apology, requires a choice. It is a daily choice to forgive because God has forgiven you… Share on X

Pre-Forgiveness Defined

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines forgiveness as “the attitude of someone who is willing to forgive other people” 

A loose definition of pre-forgiveness is -choosing an attitude that forgives others before they hurt you.

Rick Thomas defines pre-forgiveness as allowing God to adjust your heart so you can forgive.

In short, it means I have to determine beforehand that I will forgive. Period. I will forgive.

I have to know that my response to hurt is to forgive. It is critical to choose to forgive before they ask forgiveness, even if they never ask forgiveness. This requires a change of perspective.

I choose to say, “I will forgive you every day,” because that is how God forgives me. Is this illustrated in the Bible? 

What Does The Bible Say About Forgiving Without An Apology?

Is pre-forgiveness in the Bible? There are many Biblical characters who could have justified holding onto hurt and not forgiving. All throughout Scripture, God’s people are hurt. Rarely does anyone apologize…

Did God let them hold onto anger? Nope, God expects His children to forgive. In fact, I would say forgiveness without an apology is the norm in the Bible.


Few Bible heroes had as much to forgive as Joseph. Joseph was mistreated by almost everyone. Read his story in Genesis 37-50.

  • His brothers hated him so much that they sold him into slavery. (Genesis 37:18-28)
  • Joseph was falsely imprisoned for rape. (Genesis 39:6-20)
  • He was forgotten after several acts of kindness that should have helped him out of prison. (Genesis 40)

The hurt had gone on for years. Somewhere along his journey, however, God had worked forgiveness into Joesph’s heart. 

Proof of Pre-Forgiveness

In each instance of hurt in Joseph’s life, we see no Biblical account of his plotting revenge or working hard to prove his innocence. He seems to have just allowed God to work through each situation as He pleased. 

While there is no specific how-to forgive without an apology Bible verse, we can see evidence of this idea in Joseph’s life. That is enough to teach the lesson. Behavior is the proof we need to follow Joseph’s example.

I know Joseph forgave because I know what un-forgiveness looks like. Un-forgiveness shows itself through wallowing in bitterness and resentment. Now, as I strive to walk in forgiveness, I can see the difference. 

Compared to My Story

There was great hurt in my life. Unlike Joseph, however, my time was not productive. I certainly didn’t prosper and advance in my situations as he did. 

  • The hurt felt unjust and unfair and I wasted time focused on those things. 
  • Years were squandered asking, “Why me.”
  • Instead of living out moving forward, I wished life was different. 
  • My mind dwelt on fantasy and entertainment to escape and missed opportunities to enjoy the real world. 

I focused on resenting those who hurt me but never apologized. Instead of asking God to help me forgive, I asked Why.

Why Should I Forgive Someone Who is Not Sorry?

They still are not sorry. No one has said to me, “Tiffany, I was wrong to hurt you. Please forgive me.” No one.

Why forgive people who don’t even realize how deeply they hurt me? It hurt. There are scars on my soul, so deep and ugly.

For years I tried to hide them, pretending to be okay. All the while, I was bitter, closing myself off from the world around me. Trying to not get hurt anymore by people who didn’t notice my pain.

Today, that pain is gone. Those scars are beautiful reminders of what God has done in my life… even though they are still not sorry.

Why forgive? Because you deserve the healing God has for you. He is waiting to bring beauty from ashes!

Proof of Pre-Forgiveness in Joseph’s Story

I don’t see resentment or bitterness in Joseph’s story. Do you?

  • He was present in the pain.
    • We see that because he rose to the top in each difficult situation.
  • God blessed him through the trials.
    • And he used those gifts in spite of suffering.
  • He showed great character and determination
    • Seen because even as a slave he became the manager in Potiphars’ house. 
  • More character and respect came as he suffered.
    • We see that in that he practically ran the prison.
  • He had the favor of God.
    • Joseph even rose to second in command of all of Egypt.  

He seemed to approach each situation with humility. Joseph couldn’t have done that if he had not forgiven the previous situations. Hard and painful situations.

Joseph forgave with not a single person asking him to forgive. How? How do you forgive without an apology? He stayed focused on God rather than the hurt is all we can draw from the story. 

Scripture On Forgiving Without An Apology

I want to glance at the ultimate example that Joseph practiced pre-forgiveness. He forgave without an apology.

“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” 

So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ 

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50:15-21 NASB)

Is An Apology Necessary for Forgiveness?

Why would his brothers have been afraid when their father died? 

They had never told Joseph they were sorry. NO one ever asked his forgiveness. They expected him to act with vengeance out of a heart filled with bitterness and resentment… surely that is what they deserved. 

When We Forgive God Blesses

Did you notice verse 20? 

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to keep many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20 NASB)

God’s blessings, often, have to do with letting us see His plan and see Him at work. Joseph saw that all the pain and suffering he endured was necessary to get him into this position.

God needed a man in Egypt to save Israel. He chose Joseph and this was how He got him there. Blessing… even the hard parts helped prepare Joseph for the blessing.

Your Blessing

God has a plan and a purpose for your life. What are you forgiving today? God never wastes a hurt. One day, you will look back on the brokenness you feel in awe as you see God moving.

He brings blessings in the most unexpected ways. Forgiveness humbles you to be used by Him.

How To Forgive Without An Apology

How can we put pre-forgiveness into action? Practically learn how to forgive someone who isn’t sorry, Christian sister. To do this, I need to ask some questions. Take your time and answer honestly. 

  1. What hurts are you holding onto?
  2. How do you feel about daily forgiveness?
  3. Do you want the freedom that comes with choosing to always forgive?
  4. Are you afraid of being taken advantage of?

What Hurts Are You Holding Onto? 

Personally, I have had to forgive much. My past was like a minefield of hurt. And, I wasted so much of my life in anger and bitterness over the hurt done to me. 

Real hurt: Abuse. Neglect. Rejection. Persecution. Loss. Sickness. Betrayal. Big and small slights by my husband.

Can you relate to Joseph’s struggles? I could personally relate to several of them. Spend some time talking to God about that. He cares and longs to hear you pour your heart out about them.

Have you ever thought it was possible to forgive daily? 

Can you see any benefit to making this a perspective change? To forgive daily. To decide you will always forgive anyone for anything they do against you…

Ask God to show you what He would have you change in this area of your life. 

Related Post: 5 Ways to Handle Mistakes in Marriage With Love and Grace

Do You Want Freedom?

I know that sounds like a ridiculous question, but Jesus asked a similar one to the lame man in (John 5:6). “Do you want to be healed?”

Sometimes, unintentionally, we get so used to the pain. It is so familiar that we want to hold onto it for the security of the known. Freedom and healing are unknown. So I ask, do you want freedom and healing?

As I have been learning to walk through forgiveness, I have found freedom. I have determined in my heart that I will forgive the hurts done to me. The results have been overwhelming freedom:

  • As hurt comes up, I practice forgiving quickly and I spend less and less time hurt. 
  • I do not dwell on the hurt or offense. When it comes back to mind, rather than focus on it, I pray through it to pursue true forgiveness.
  • The best freedom is that I am not easily offended anymore.  It actually takes a lot to offend me nowadays.

The Result of Forgiveness

This made a dramatic change in my home. I did not tell my husband I was trying this, but he noticed fairly quickly. As you can imagine…

  • No more biting his head off when he said or did something insensitive. 
  • Sulking and freezing him out when he messed up stopped. 
  • I forgive and treat him as though he was forgiven. Period.

Are You Afraid Of Being Taken Advantage Of?

I was afraid. If I forgave everyone, everything, no matter what, would I become a door matt? For the most part, people in my life have no idea this is how I live life.

In most relationships, there is no risk. But in my closest relationship, there is a real risk. Specifically by my immediate family.

My husband knows I always forgive him. It’s been going on long enough that he understands I will forgive anything. There was a fear that he would take advantage of this. Do you have that fear? Talk to God about it!

Steps To Protect Yourself in Marriage

But remember that forgiveness and reconciliation are NOT the same things. When my husband (or anyone else) does something that breaks my trust or causes injury intentionally, I forgive, but that is not where it stops.

We have difficult conversations. I set real boundaries. We work together to mend what was broken. That is the part most often left out of the conversation about how to forgive without an apology. You can forgive most things, but some require more than just forgiveness to move forward.

Related Post: 5 Steps to Ensure Love Never Fails in Marriage

Perspective Shift

This has taken time to get used to. Pre-forgiveness starts by changing how I think about forgiveness. 

Forgiveness does not need to be earned. It needs to be given freely the way God gives forgiveness. I do not have to earn forgiveness from God, He gives it freely. 

I want to encourage us to be true disciples of His and learn how to do forgiveness in God’s way. It requires a change of perspective.

Will You Begin to Forgive Without An Apology?

This is a weighty subject. Can you forgive someone without an apology? The short answer is Yes. The real answer is… complicated.

Most of the things we need to forgive without an apology need no further action. The offender probably has no idea they hurt us in the first place.

Other things, however, will require some time in prayer. Is the relationship one we value and want to restore? Sometimes it really isn’t. We can forgive and walk away with no guilt. Other times, we need to have some deep and long time in prayer asking God to help us approach the offender about the issue.

Yes, we can forgive anyone, anything, anytime with the help of God. No, that is not where the process should stop in every case. The point of this is simple though. Forgiveness is for you and God’s relationship. Will you choose today to forgive beforehand? Will you begin to walk in the freedom of pre-forgiveness?

in HIS love,

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Tiffany Montgomery

Tiffany of Hope Joy in Christ inspires Christian Women to grow in faith, live out Biblical Marriage Principles and raise Godly Children.  Join the Wives Only Facebook Group here or keep up with her through Pinterest.