I Choose Forgiveness :: By Alice Childs

Are you dealing with anger or hurt that is bigger than you are? Do you sometimes feel as if you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders only to find yourself the target of someone else’s ire and anger? Have you been hurt by another’s betrayal or snubbed because of the stand you have taken? I have.

How should we respond when we have been hurt? When we are angry; when we have been misjudged or ill-treated; whether justified or unjustified, what should be our reaction to our hurt and anger?

God has an answer to us as to what He, by His grace, both expects and enables us to do. He tells us how we are to respond to every hurt we will ever encounter regardless of who it is that hurt us and regardless of the circumstances.

Regardless of whether the slight done to us was great or small, justified or unjustified, petty or monumental, how we respond lies entirely within our own hands (and hearts).

I needed to be reminded of this today. The attitude that I display and the actions and reactions I take are entirely of MY own choosing. I can choose to be bitter and unforgiving, or I can choose to do what the Holy Spirit in the Word of God tells me I SHOULD do – I can forgive the one(s) who hurt me.

It is my choice to forgive and attempt to make restoration if possible, or it is my choice to allow a bitter and unforgiving spirit to fester within me; a seed of anger and resentment sending down tendrils of wrath and hurt pride that will inevitably take root, grow, and spread throughout my heart and mind like bitter vetch.

Hurt and anger, if not killed at the roots by the grace of God, will eventually poison not only my spirit, but will eventually poison all those with whom I come in contact if not addressed and squarely faced within the dictates of God’s Word.

I can choose to hold onto grudges that will harden a little more each day until they form an impenetrable shell that calcifies into hatred and bitterness. Or I can ask the Lord to root out all of the anger, hurt, and pride that is slowly poisoning me.

I can CHOOSE to be forgiving even if I don’t particularly “feel” forgiving.

Forgiveness, like love, is not a matter of feeling or emotion, but is a CHOICE we make wholly apart from our emotions. Even if the one who has hurt me or who is still hurting me NEVER wants to forgive or make amends, it is still the choice I make that will either imprison me within the solitary confinement of a bitter heart, or unlock within my soul a sweet release that will forever set ME free, regardless of anyone else’s attitude or behavior.

I can choose to ask the Holy Spirit to help me to forgive unconditionally those who have hurt me just as Jesus in His infinite love and tender mercy has forgiven me – wretch that I am. By the grace of God alone, I choose to forgive.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 KJV).