Contrary To Feelings Choices

Q. I am struggling very much with the concept of forgiveness and anger. This ongoing struggle has caused me great pain for several years. I know that God commands us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Even so, I am having a hard time forgiving a family member who betrayed my trust and stole a large sum of money that she’s unable to pay back. I am unsure how to reconcile my emotional response of anger vs. my logical desire to forgive. Is it possible to forgive her while remaining angry?

A. In Matt. 5:21-22 Jesus likened anger to murder. In Ephesians 4:26-27 Paul wrote that letting the sun go down on our anger gives the devil a foothold in our life. This is especially true when our anger is justified. He uses that to persuade us not to forgive the person who wronged us. Little by little as we hold on to our anger his foothold becomes a stronghold. It’s like he’s building a fortress in our mind.

2 Cor. 10:3-5 says we’ve been given weapons with divine power to demolish the devil’s strongholds. We demolish his arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God by taking thoughts of anger captive and making them obedient to Christ.

We do this by making what some call a contrary-to-feelings choice. We can’t control our feelings of anger but we can control our response to them. The proper response is to ask the Lord to forgive the person who made us angry and also forgive us for being angry. It doesn’t matter how we feel. What matters is what we do. By repeatedly making the choice to forgive when moments of anger over take us, we find that our feelings will begin to align themselves with our choices. The more powerful we’ve allowed the stronghold to become, the longer this will take, but sooner or later it will be demolished and our anger will be gone.

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