Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Hebrews 12:15 KJV
Because forgiveness is a choice, it is something that we do and then it’s done. It is not an ongoing, progressive act. Some people hesitate to forgive someone, saying something like, “I’m working on it” or “It may take me a while to completely forgive them.” This implies that forgiveness takes time.
It doesn’t. While feelings take time to change, forgiveness is only a choice away. Once we decide that we are willing to choose forgiveness, we can complete the act of forgiving immediately.
Have you been waiting to forgive someone until you feel more ready? Are you willing to consider the idea that forgiveness is a choice you can make here and now? In the next reading, you’ll be invited to make the choice to forgive those who have hurt you.
You may be thinking, “But I can’t just let them off the hook! They deserve consequences, including my anger at them!” We tend to think that forgiveness is only for the benefit of the other person, the offender.
With forgiveness, the benefit to the offender is only half of the truth. Sure, there may be some tangible benefit to someone else when we choose to forgive them, but forgiveness is many times just for our own benefit. We forgive so that we don’t have to walk around anymore with bitterness or resentment inside (Heb. 12:15). When we forgive, we get to live free of those controlling thoughts. Forgiveness is for our own benefit as much as anyone else’s. In fact, the person we forgive may no longer be living or may never even find out that we forgave them! In that case, the benefits of forgiving them are all our own.
I had been married for nearly five years but remained childless until just a year ago after I had been introduced to WWPM. We had several challenges in our marriage which usually worsened whenever I fell pregnant and subsequently miscarried. I found the situation so unbearable that I eventually left my marital home despite efforts by elders and church counsellors to resolve issues. We managed to come together after the miscarriage, but this was short-lived due to misunderstandings and lack of affection for each other. I was pregnant at this point but the frustration, worry, and anxiety proved too much for me that I ended up in hospital.
Concerned that I might lose this baby, I moved out of my home again and did not even return after the delivery, and did not see or speak to him for four years. I was so embittered I did not even want our child to sign his name as the father. She was due to start pre-school at Grace Baptist School, where I met Pas. Mrs. Odoi and through the discussion I explained why I did not want my daughter signing her father’s name, despite being the biological father.
Mrs. Odoi committed herself to counselling and praying with me to ensure the marriage worked again. My husband and I both realised how ignorant we had been, our marriage was restored by God’s grace and we now share with and counsel others in similar situations.
Glory be to God for resurrecting my marriage through this ministry.
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34 NIV).
Despite the overwhelming rejection and physical pain, Jesus made the decision to forgive.
Now, that same Jesus lives in us?
Sometimes we might hesitate to forgive someone because we don’t feel very forgiving toward them. We might still feel a great deal of anger toward them. So we examine our emotional state and decide we are not in any condition to forgive. We buy into the error that forgiveness is a feeling.
Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. It is about choosing to cancel a debt owed to us. Yes, we might feel that someone owes us an apology, or that they should make up for what they have done to us. They owe us big time. But forgiveness is releasing them from that debt and giving up the right to be treated fairly by them. Making this choice to forgive may fly in the face of everything we are currently feeling. Our feelings may cry out against the whole idea of forgiveness. Still, we can choose. This mirrors what God did when he chose to forgive us.
We don’t have to wait for our feelings to come on board. Instead, we can follow the divine sequence that God has given us: think, then choose, then feel. We can set our minds on the truth of what needs to be done. We can choose to forgive and release someone from the debt owed to us. Then, from that day forward, we can remember the choice we made. We can continue to live in agreement with the choice we made. Our emotions may or may not line up with our choice. Still, we know what we chose to do—forgive and release—and that is what matters most.
Copyright © Agnes Odoi Ministries