A married couple tightly embracing each other.

How to Forgive (When You Don't Really Feel Like It)

- by Joyce Meyer

I want to ask you some important questions...

How do you respond when someone hurts your feelings? Do you take hold of their offense and let it rob you of your joy? Do your emotions run wild and try to take control of your actions? 

Years ago, when I was right in the middle of teaching a series on forgiveness, someone said something to me over the phone that kind of hurt my feelings. I had all the same type of emotions that most of us have when this kind of thing happens, and I had to just start praying: 

“God, help me, help me, help me! I’m right in the middle of teaching a series on forgiveness, God. I can’t teach them when I’m feeling mad! It’s just not going to work for me to try to teach when I’m upset. Oh, Jesus, help me!” 

I decided to act right, which is good. However, my decision didn’t help the way I felt inside—my feelings needed time to catch up with my decision. 

I think this is where a lot of us get into trouble. We choose to forgive a person, but when our emotions don’t immediately catch up, we can either feel like we didn’t truly forgive...or we can allow these feelings to drag us back into unforgiveness. 

“You Want Me to Do What?”

Luke 6 tells us what we should do when people hurt us. One morning I was reading this passage out loud to my husband Dave and said:

“You know what? This has got to be the hardest thing in the whole world to do.” But we don’t get out of doing something just because it’s hard to do. 

Let’s look at it together...

Verses 27 and 28 of this passage it says, But I say to you who are listening now to Me: [in order to heed, make it a practice to] love your enemies, treat well (do good to, act nobly toward) those who detest you and pursue you with hatred, invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you]

Can you believe that? We’re to pray something like, “Oh, Lord, I pray that You’d just make them so happy!” 

I’ll admit, this is still difficult to do. And there are times when I will pray, “Lord, I don’t know that I really want them to be happy, but I’ll pray that in faith anyway, because You’re telling me to bless them.” 

Remember, you don’t have to feel like praying for someone to do it. Even if you’re still hurt...even if you don’t want to...you can pray blessings over someone, and it’s still powerful!

This Next Step Changed My Life...

Verse 35 takes this one step further. It instructs us to love [our] enemies and be kind and do good [doing favors so that someone derives benefit from them] and lend, expecting and hoping for nothing in return.... 

Let’s get practical about how to do this. If we have a coworker who gets the promotion that we’ve been believing God for, the minute we start to feel jealousy and envy, we need to go buy them a gift. 

I’m serious—it really works! Why? Because when we do it, it breaks the power of the enemy because Romans 12:21 says that we overcome evil with good. It’s absolutely true, too. I have learned this principle and it has been life-changing for me. 

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to put this into practice...

One time in particular, I found out that someone was saying negative things about me behind my back. They were a business associate—someone who our ministry had a good relationship with. 

Well, instantly my emotions rose up. I spent all night rehearsing the things I was going to say to this person—and they probably deserved it! However, after I settle down, I so clearly heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart:

“Joyce, you’re not going to do any of that.”

“I’m not?”

“No, you’re going to do what you teach—you’re going to forgive them. And you’re going to buy them a gift. You’re going to tell them how much you’ve appreciate their services all of these years.”

That was almost more than I could bear. But I did it. And you know what? As soon as I began taking action to bless them, I started experiencing tremendous joy. In fact, it all became extremely funny to me!

When we can look at people who’ve hurt us, with compassion, and pray what Jesus prayed, ...Father, forgive them for they know not what they do—there’s a party that goes on inside of us! (See Luke 23:34.) 

Now, here’s something we usually don’t think about...

Probably 99.9 percent of the time, people do not realize what they are doing! That’s why we need to pray for them and say, “God forgive them.” Now, you’re going to like this part...

What does God say will happen to us when we obey His Word? Luke 6:35 (AMPC) states, ...and then your recompense (your reward) will be great (rich, strong, intense, and abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High.... 

God tells us that we’ll receive a reward. We will get double for our trouble if we will do things His way! 

Get Your Mouth to Cooperate...

Remember too, that one of the main ingredients of forgiveness is for us to bless our enemies and not curse them. Bless means “to speak well of them” and curse means “to speak evil of them.” 

One of the key reasons some people don’t ever work through the process of forgiveness is that they won’t shut their mouths. They will not stop talking about it and want to tell everyone they run into what so-and-so did to them. 

Yet at the same time they’ll also say, “Of course, I’ve forgiven them. I have no bitterness or resentment.” 

But, if we keep talking about it, it is still a problem for us. We may have done the official “I forgive you.” But we may not have made the decision to forgive and we need to be honest with God. 

Keep It Under Cover...

The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins. Do you know what that means? It means that love will even have you making excuses for your enemies. 

Someone might come up to us and say, “Well, I heard what so-and-so did to you.” We can choose to reply, “You know, they didn’t understand what they were doing. They’ve just got problems of their own.” 

When we really decide to forgive someone, pray blessings over them, and decide to not talk about them, we still might not feel any different. The enemy will try to work through our feelings to make us think that we haven’t really forgiven them. 

When that happens, we need to say, “I have done my part before God and now God will do His part. My feelings will catch up with my decision.” 

I believe choosing forgiveness is one of the most difficult things God asks us to do, especially if we believe that whoever hurt us is in the wrong and doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. But God instructs us to practice forgiveness and that when we do, we can trust Him to deal with whoever has hurt us and help us walk through the steps of forgiveness. 

And when we choose to follow the path of forgiveness instead of our emotions, we will experience the peace and joy that come through obeying God’s Word.

You May Enjoy
EA Teaching

What Prayer Is and How It Works

Prayer wasn't meant to be complicated. Discover how easy it is to talk to God.

Read More
Girl Lying in grass, covering her face.
EA Teaching

The Key to Living God’s Amazing Plan for Your Life

Is your life the best it can be? Or is there is room for improvement? Discover the main key to experiencing everything God has for you.

Read More
Steps to emotional healing | Joyce Meyer
EA Teaching

Three Steps to Emotional Healing That Lasts

Has someone hurt you? Joyce shows you how to heal from damaged emotions and move toward a happier life. Move toward a happier life.

Read More