"My heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart." —Matthew 18:35
Many Christians don't forgive others because they have been deceived into thinking they have already forgiven. This deception about forgiveness results in our being handed over to the torturers (Mt 18:34) and not being forgiven ourselves (Mt 6:12). Therefore, we are doomed if we are deceived about having forgiven.
One of the best indicators of false forgiveness is anger. Before and after the writer of Sirach commands us to forgive (Sir 28:2), he teaches us that "wrath and anger are hateful things" (Sir 27:30) and that anger prevents us from being healed (Sir 28:3, 5). We may not even feel angry with the persons who have hurt us, yet anger in any area may be an indication of unforgiveness toward someone.
Another indication of false forgiveness is not being very aware of the impossibility of human beings forgiving. The old saying is absolutely true: "To err is human; to forgive is divine." We cannot forgive; only God can forgive. Humanly speaking, we have a bear-hug on anger and unforgiveness (see Sir 27:30). We will never break this hold by our own power. By the Lord's power, however, we can forgive everyone for everything.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any false forgiveness in your life.
Prayer: Father, may forgiveness mean for me what it means for You.
Promise: "None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die we die as His servants." —Rm 14:7-8
Praise: Alleluia! Jesus is "the Resurrection and the Life" (Jn 11:25).
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert J. Buschmiller, January 29, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 5, 1996