Have you ever forgiven someone but had bad feelings about them at the same time? Jesus Christ is our model for forgiveness. It’s hard to image Jesus forgiving someone but holding onto bad feelings about that person. Yet, many Christians have the idea that we can forgive someone practically, that is, from the mind, yet still hold bad feelings about that person. We forgive their sin but if something bad happened to them we wouldn’t be crying any tears of sorrow.
I want to suggest that this kind of forgiveness may not be forgiveness at all. It’s the kind of forgiveness that is dressed up in Christianese language but it isn’t a forgiveness that is fully felt in the seat of our emotions. And if we claim to forgive someone, shouldn’t we feel it in the heart? After all, when we sin we are told that we must repent from the heart. “Rend your heart and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). “David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people” (II Samuel 24:10). “He has sent me to heal the contrite of heart” (Luke 4:18). Throughout the scripture we are urged to repent of sin, not only intellectually, but from the seat of our emotions; from the heart. If this is the case, then doesn’t forgiveness also require an expression of the heart?