According to the Concordance, which reveals the definitions of words in their original language before translation into English, the word “heart” in this context means “thoughts or feelings”. Plain and simple, the Lord commands us to forgive others IN OUR THOUGHTS OR FEELINGS.
Uh oh! When I learned that I must forgive according to the Word of God, I became adept over time at saying, “I forgive him. I forgive her. I forgive you.” So what’s the problem, right? I could say the words, and I knew I had made a decision to forgive. But my thoughts and feelings would prove me otherwise. How far I fell short in truly forgiving.
The Lord has shown me just recently that if I am still walking around thinking bad thoughts about someone and/or speaking bad things about them, I have not forgiven them in my heart. The devil would love to berate me and pull me into condemnation over the realization that I have not truly forgiven. But if I reject the devil’s accusation and instead look at the Lord’s opportunity, I see this: the condition of my heart has revealed to me that I have more forgiving to do.
But how? Simple, though perhaps not easy. But God does not call me to do what He does not also equip me to do. For me, there are four solid steps I can take to forgive from the heart:
1. Make the decision to forgive. God gives me HIS LOVE to forgive people.
Rom 5:5 “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
2. Cast down any imaginations (or thoughts) in which I think poorly of the person I choose to forgive. Wrong thoughts or feelings may come as the enemy loves to send them our way, but they do not need to remain. 2Co 10:5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
3. Love, bless, and pray for the one you choose to forgive. By the way, the word “bless” according to the Concordance means to praise and speak highly of. Mat 5:43 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
Mat 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Mat 18:22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Mat 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
Mat 18:24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
Mat 18:25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
Mat 18:26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 18:27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
Mat 18:28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
Mat 18:29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 18:30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
Mat 18:31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Mat 18:32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Mat 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
Mat 18:34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
Mat 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.