Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone who does us wrong.
Luke 11:4 TEV
At the mention of her name, my blood started to bubble. Three minutes into the conversation, my blood had reached a full, rolling boil.
I thought I had forgiven her . . . truly forgiven her. Obviously not. The Bible says that whatever is in our heart in abundance will find its way out of our mouth—good or bad—right or wrong—ready or not. My emotions and my mouth were “ratting me out” and my heart said it was time to go back to my prayer closet and take care of business.
Forgiveness can be tricky. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not. When the words are said without meaning, they fall flat. I’ve been asked, “How can I know if I’ve really forgiven someone?”
My true test of forgiveness comes when I hear the person’s name or come face-to-face with them and my built-in, God-given emotional barometer changes from fair to stormy. If the knot in my stomach starts to grow, it’s back to the drawing board. If there’s peace and I’m able to extend grace and respond with God’s love, the task is complete. If the tiniest bit of resentment or bitterness pops up, there is more work to do.
Once, a young man at my church had created a lot of frustration and anger. For years I struggled with my attitude. Even with lots of prayer, the “forgiveness thing” didn’t seem to be working. I kept praying anyway and then one day when he walked in, my heart was overcome with love and compassion. I took him aside and asked his forgiveness for the way I had treated him and for my ungodly attitude. It was a divine appointment. Now whenever I see him, my heart overflows with love, and I’m able to encourage him and pray for him. If it worked with him, it will work with the woman who is raising my blood pressure. (Yes, I still have work to do.)
If you’re struggling with forgiveness, ask God to help you. Say the words “I forgive” as many times as it takes. God will honor your faith and obedience and the feelings will come later. Your emotional barometric pressure will go down and that’s how you’ll know you’re truly walking in forgiveness.