It is too often we hear someone tell us, ‘Just move on from it’ or ‘Oh, just let it go’. Yet when I hear that it only makes me think that the person doesn’t understand.
It takes time to be ready to move on. We need to process things first. Moving on and letting go are actually much more difficult than simply saying it.
Our hurts and guilt may lead us to continue in damaging relationships, may lead us to hold on to anger and control. We may worry and dwell on the past much more than live the abundance we have been given in Christ. We often hold on for a time before we are ready to let go.
Even when we are ready and want to let something go, we can’t just stuff feelings away, we’ve got to address the issues. As Christians, we have the tools that are necessary to move on and let go – completely, fully, and immediately. We have been empowered with the Holy Spirit and entrusted with the instruction of God, the Bible. We can release the past and embrace the now.
Are you facing the need to let go of a hurtful past? May you find in these Bible verses about moving on and letting go, the strength and courage you need to move forward.
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What Does The Bible Say About Letting Go And Moving On?
The Bible gives us numerous examples of moving on and letting go in addition to verses that tell us to do so directly. The Israelites are such an example. Wandering in the desert, they were constantly looking back to the time they had been in slavery and longing for the chains all over again. They were free; but they wanted slavery! They were stuck in the past and wouldn’t let go. And because of this could not see the blessings of being in the wilderness with God’s presence with them!
Living in the past is a type of slavery to “what if’s” and “if only’s.” The Israelites couldn’t let go of their past to move into the promised land.
I long to be in His promised land, not in slavery. Don’t you? It is hard to understand the Israelites…until we find ourselves in difficult and unknown territory, too.
Many of us find ourselves on unfamiliar ground when we end up divorced, jobless, offended, used, or abandoned. We tend to hold onto those hurts instead of releasing them to the healing power of our Saviour and moving on, trusting in the promises God has given to us. Promises that even the bad He will turn to good (Rom. 8:28). And His promise to us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy. 31:6).
Bible Verses About Moving On And Letting Go
Bible stories are not just stories. They are real life accounts of how real people walked their lives – for the good and for the bad. Many of these accounts have much to teach us about moving on and letting go.
Bible Verses About Letting Go Of A Relationship
Letting go of relationships can be a real test of faith.
The Bible tells us of Naomi who had to let go of relationships in order to move forward into God’s blessings for her life. Naomi had to let go of the bitterness of losing her husband and both her sons. Then one of Naomi’s daughters-in-law, named Orpah, decided to stay with her own family and her own people instead of going to a new land with Naomi after they had been widowed. Naomi recognized that Orpah had different objectives and needs for her life, so she blessed her and let her go back home to her father’s house. (Ruth 1)
Esau had massive grievances against his brother, who had stolen his birthright and blessing. Twenty years later, the men are reunited and reconciled. However, the men apparently never saw each other again, as Esau’s brother, Jacob, settled in Shechem. The brothers had the entire length and breadth of the Red Sea between them. (Genesis 25, 27-28, 32-33)
Our last example is a harsh verse from the second letter of Paul to Timothy. It seems Alexander, a metalworker, had opposed Paul greatly, and so he warned Timothy away from him. This seems to be even more than just letting go of a relationship but telling others to stay away as well! (2 Timothy 4)
These accounts of letting go of relationships are only part of the Bible’s instruction to us. There are several verses that tell us to beware of our judgment in who we spend time with and how we spend that time:
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.Romans 12:18
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.Proverbs 13:20
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.2 Peter 3:17
These accounts and Bible verses about letting go of friends and family make it clear that God understands that, in all the variety of His creation, we will not get along with everyone. However, I appreciate that in letting go, we are also shown the godly way to do so: with a blessing and after reconciliation.
Bible Verses About Letting Go Of Hurt
We are also told of Hagar in Genesis. She was a slave of Sarai, Abram’s wife. And she was given to Abram to have a child since Sarai was barren. She was then mistreated by her mistress Sarai and ran away. God encouraged her to go back and live with her mistress. Later, she and her son were sent away from the family out of fear and jealousy.
The amazing thing about the hurt that Hagar bore, being given over for use of her body and womb, mistreated by her mistress and eventually sent away with a young son and no way to provide for herself, is that God came to aid and encourage her. She did not cry out to God; He was already there! (Genesis 16 & 21)
We must remember that, even in our hurt and suffering, God is already there. He sees us and comforts us; He provides what we need. He doesn’t stop there: He heals our pain when we give it over to Him and make Him the focus of our lives. It isn’t easy to set the hurt aside and give Him the focus – pain screams for attention. But God waits for our attention and is worthy of it. Bible verses speak of God healing us:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.Romans 8:18
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.Jeremiah 17:14
And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?Genesis 16:13
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.Isaiah 53:4-5
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.1 Peter 5:10
Did you catch the healing part of Jeremiah 17:14? God is our praise, our focus and joy. When we praise, all else is blocked out and God is our focus. In Him we find our healing, and ‘by his stripes we are healed,’ so we can let go of hurt in the grace of God who has called us.
Bible Verses About Letting Go Of Guilt
The New Testament tells us of two men who make similar mistakes to begin with, but their choices following the mistake make all the difference in their lives. Both were disciples, men who knew Jesus well. Both were tempted by Satan but only one came back to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, only one understood that our choices influence us but God can overcome any influence.
Judas regretted giving up Jesus to Caiaphas, the high priest, and the other Jewish leaders. He gave the blood money he had received back to the temple and then hanged himself. Judas, a lost man, had rejected the hope and forgiveness that had been offered to him in Jesus, and therefore, was not equipped to let go of his regret and guilt. That guilt then drove him to suicide. (Matthew 26, 27)
Peter denied Jesus three times and then wept. But he left his despair behind, he gathered with other disciples after Jesus’ death. When Peter saw Jesus after the resurrection, he ran to Him, leaping through the water to get to Him sooner. He laid himself bare to Jesus and was reconciled to Him; he was set back in his right place with Jesus. Peter found his hope in Jesus, and was able to let go of his guilt and again walk with Jesus His Saviour. (Matthew 26, John 21)
These accounts of two men who were part of Jesus’ inner circle show us the choice we have when facing our past sins. We can seek forgiveness in Christ and move forward and serve our Saviour with a clear conscience!
There are many Bible verses about letting go of the past and past mistakes. God doesn’t want us to live in bondage to our sins. That’s why Jesus died for us on the cross, to take away our sins and give us newness of life in Him!
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.Proverbs 28:13
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.Psalm 32:1-5
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.Hebrews 10:22
God himself will wash away our past mistakes when we confess, as David did in the Psalm above, and we are assured of being able to let go of the past and its guilt.
Bible Verses About Letting Go Of Control
David is best known as the man after God’s own heart. Yet he was not perfect! He had a string of sins in a row before he was called out about them. It all started with trying to control outcomes instead of controlling his behavior and resisting sin.
When David should have gone with his army, David stayed home and wound up sleeping with another man’s wife. Then he called her husband back from battle and tried to get him to sleep with his wife to cover his own error. The man refused, and so David sent orders for the man to lead the next hopeless charge, effectively sending him to his death. Finally, David took the woman for his wife. (2 Samuel 11-12)
David never did consult God during all this. He made decision after decision thinking about controlling the outcome. He worried about how things would turn out and took them into his own hands.
David’s choices led to brokenness in the relationship with the woman, Bathsheba. It led to brokenness with God. And he wasn’t even successful in his attempts to control it! David faced the consequences of his trying to control things, but none of that was as important as reconciling with God following his sin.
Paul is also known as a powerhouse among God’s men. He pleaded with God three times to take away the “thorn” in his flesh. God’s response was that His grace was enough. I’m certain Paul was upset about this ‘No’ he got from God since he wrote about it.
In recognizing God was the only One who could do anything about it, though, Paul was able to finally let it go by accepting it as God’s will. (2 Corinthians 12)
God’s grace is enough when we make mistakes like David. His grace is enough when we remain in pain like Paul. Neither managed to control the outcome yet both were satisfied once they let go of the ‘control’ and turned to God.
God is sovereign. His will reigns. The lessons that we must learn in the hard parts of life and the bad choices or miserable situations we find ourselves in are part of how we grow to be more like Jesus. But we have to let go of the control and let go of the things we cannot control.
The Bible instructs us not only in accounts like Paul and David, but also directly in Bible verses about letting go of worry and in Bible verses about letting go of things you can’t control:
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?Matthew 6:27
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.Exodus 23:20
I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.Job 42:2
We are valued more than a sparrow to God and He knows the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:6-7). He is much better at controlling outcomes than we are. Letting go of control and worry gives God the opportunity to lead us into His peace.
Bible Verses About Letting Go Of Anger
The first example of anger we find in the Bible is Cain. Cain made an offering to God that was not found to be acceptable, while his brother, Abel, made a pleasing offering to God. Cain got angry and God warned him that sin was crouching at the door in his anger. But Cain took his brother out to the fields and killed him.
These two tell us of the result of long-held anger: bitterness. Anger is a close relation to control – we get angry when things are not as we want or expect, when things are out of our control. And that anger then opens the door for more sin, as it did for Cain when he killed his brother.
God is with us in our anger. And it is also important to note that not all anger is sin. It depends on why we are angry and what we do with our anger that makes it sin. And whether we can take it to God, or take it out on others.
Many Bible verses encourage us to let go of our anger:
And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.Genesis 4:6-7
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.James 1:20
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.Colossians 3:12-13
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.Ephesians 4:26-27
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.Psalms 141:3-4
God does not tell us to not be angry, but to watch what we do with our anger. He encourages us to forgive others and put on the character of Christ in letting go of our anger.
Encouragement For Moving On
Relationships, hurt, guilt, control, and anger are all potential roadblocks to leading the life we are called to live. We are called to walk as Christ walked. And Who better provides an example for not holding on to the things we cannot change? Jesus forgave even those who crucified Him!
God works a new thing in us, renewing our minds and hearts to be more like His Son Jesus. Letting go and moving on releases us from the burden of needless weight. And we are never left on our own to release these burdens. God accompanies us every step of the way, having sent his Holy Spirit to guide us and instruct us, as He does in His Word:
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3:13-14
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.2 Corinthians 5:17
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.Isaiah 43:18-19
Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.Job 8:21
The Bible is full of Bible verses about letting go of the past and moving on. The Word encourages us to set aside the past, the mistakes, the bad influences, the guilt, the control, and the pain to strive toward His joy and peace.
There is nothing standing in the way of this relief except our choice to let it go to God. Do you need to release something in your past? Trust God with it today, and move on into the joy of the abundant life God has for you.
Enjoy some relaxing moments meditating on these Bible verses about moving on and letting go. As you enjoy coloring this free printable coloring page, let your worries, fears, regrets, and hurts from your past all go as you release them to God to take care of for you!
Click the image to download and print.
About the Author – Sarah K. Howley
Sarah K. Howley is a Christian author and speaker who has lived on four continents. She holds a counseling certificate and master’s in education and is usually found with a book in one hand and an espresso in the other. She writes at Inspirit Encourage.