What if you don’t “feel” like forgiving a person? My college pastor always told me forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling. In his book The Bondage Breaker, Neil Anderson calls forgiving a “decision of your will.” The pain and the anger toward a person may still linger although you have chosen to forgive them. But keep forgiving and keep giving your hurts back to God if they resurface. God will eventually take away the pain and anger.
A good way to truly begin to forgive someone is to pray for him. If the person is a Christian, ask God to bless his walk. If he is not, pray for salvation. I found that after praying for someone, my attitude toward that person begins to change. It’s not an easy or fast process, but it allows God’s grace to work.
Even secular medicine has acknowledged the benefits of forgiveness. An article on Beliefnet.com explains how those who were counseled to forgive, either in a religious or secular setting, recovered better than those who were not counseled to forgive. According to the article, a study at University of Northern Iowa with women who were victims of childhood incest found that those who received forgiveness counseling experienced less anxiety and clinical depression. The end of the article stated, “Forgive others because it is good for you,” and there is some truth to the idea that forgiveness does make us healthier people. In God’s perfect design He made forgiving others an essential part of our emotional and spiritual well-being.
However, our health and state of mind are not the most important factors here. Yes, God wants us to be healed, but there is something much more. Through Jesus’ atoning death we have been forgiven of our sins though we deserve condemnation. Since God has forgiven us so much how then can we not forgive those who sin against us?