Forgiveness is a Choice

There is no such thing as forced forgiveness. The very center of the word forgiveness is “give.” If it’s not freely given, it’s not forgiveness. It must always be intentional and voluntary. The result of forgiving is freedom. There is no freedom in force. 

I remember when my boys were young. One of them would do something to hurt their brother. There would be anger and upset. I would ask the offending one to say they were sorry. They would say the words, “I’m sorry,” but the feelings clearly didn’t match the words. Perhaps, it would have been better to do a little teaching on empathy – like helping them understand how their brother might be feeling – instead of forcing some words that were dishonest.

It’s true that sometimes we choose to say, “I’m sorry” and still have feeling about the issue. Forgiveness is entirely our choice. 

Here is a lovely story by a nine-year-old named Julie to illustrate the power of choice. 

“One day my friend, Karen, got angry with me. She yelled and shouted at me. She called me names. For two weeks I was angry with her. At the end of the first week, she asked me if I wanted to walk to school with her. I said no. Then one day I prayed and asked Jesus if he would help me not be angry. The next week Karen asked me again if I would walk with her, but I still said no. The third time she asked me, I said yes. I wasn’t angry, and we walked together from then on.”  

Powerful simple story. Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision. Moving from one way of thinking to another is an unforced, chosen, intentional process. Julie decided to say no, to pray, to say no, and then to say yes. 

Choose “to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35, paraphrased by the author)

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Forgiveness is a Choice

There is no such thing as forced forgiveness. The very center of the word forgiveness is “give.” If it’s not freely given, it’s not forgiveness.

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