Peter . . . asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matt. 18:21)

DORA SAT IN THE COFFEE SHOP hugging her cup as her eyes glistened. “My boyfriend said he lied to me because he was afraid I wouldn’t understand the truth and would walk away. He had no trust in me or my love for him.” She took a deep gulp of caffeine and courage. “How can I trust him now? I’m not sure I can forgive him.”

Forgiveness is an action, not a reactive emotion. Forgiveness does not condone a person’s behavior, but it dissipates the anger, guilt, worry, and intimidation we feel because of it. Choosing to forgive unshackles our hearts; holding a grudge imprisons us in emotion and may block us from seeing God’s blessings.

Retaining an unforgiving spirit will punish us more than it will those who wronged us. It pours salt into the wound over and over again. They may not change their behavior. They may sin again and again. But forgiving them each time releases the power of faith to shield us from the hurt. This is not wimping out. To forgive again and again takes enormous strength, the God-given type.

Dora may choose not to remain that man’s girlfriend, but she can walk away with the heaviness lifted from her heart, knowing she has done the right thing by offering forgiveness and releasing the power the hurt had over her.

Make the choice to forgive; ask God to help you do it.

Julie B. Cosgrove is an award-winning, multi-published author who regularly writes for several devotional websites and publications.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.