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.