Q. I know we must forgive those who hurt or offend us. I have heard preachers say that if you don’t love them from your heart you have not forgiven that person. Is not forgiveness what we do because we have been forgiven and we are told to forgive others. Can someone forgive as an act of their will and yet not like the person they’ve forgiven? Paul said, “As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Could not being around that person on a regular basis be the best way to be at peace with them?
A. Those preachers are going beyond the Lord’s instructions. He didn’t say you have to love the person who sinned against you from your heart. He said you have to forgive them from your heart. Once you have forgiven them you don’t ever have to see them again or even think about them.
Forgiveness is a choice. We do it out of obedience to the Lord’s instructions whether we feel like it or not. We keep on making the choice to forgive until our feelings catch up with our choice. When we feel like forgiving them and harbor no ill will toward them we know we’ve forgiven them from our heart and it won’t matter if we’re around them or not.