Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
HEART from the Hebrew:
There is more on the landscape of the human mind than the physical geography of the brain.
And, where do your emotions come from? They are partly influenced by hormones secreted from glands, which have nothing to do with the brain or logical thought. Yet, no one could deny that emotions influence our decisions. Look back at the bacon question. A strip of bacon has very little actual meat. Bacon is a huge percentage fat, and will not provide the protein that would fill us up. Compare a slice of bacon, or two, or three, to a ribeye steak. There really is no comparison, is there? Which one is more filling? Yet, you do not see the media craze for steak that you do for bacon. Bacon is portrayed as meat for a hearty appetite. This is illogical, to say the least. I would choose steak over bacon any day, logically! Yet, many value bacon. Their mental value filters tell them to think of the bacon as good.
The heart functions mechanically by a series of valves that circulate blood; which issues life throughout the body, (if we don't eat too much bacon.) The brain functions mechanically in a similar way; in that neurons fire off electrical impulses, which travel along synapses through the nervous system of the body. This dual fluid and charge system makes up our life force. Blood and neuronal impulses are constantly regenerated throughout the body. What the heart and brain receive,they have already sent out. They get nothing they haven't already given. What they give, they will get in return.
Likewise, when dealing with sociological concerns like mercy and forgiveness, we can not physically receive what we do not give. If we criticize those around us, we will "feel" condemnation in return.
Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven: Luke 6:37
Though the mind seems like a highly specialized robot, with intelligent programming, the human mind is said to have a will: the power to choose and change outcome and output. This is so unlike a droid or robot.
Have you ever met someone who seems to be on an emotional roller coaster? Every time you speak to them, they are either screaming in excitement, or howling in tears about their next big problem. They seem to be functioning like a robot, without power to choose or change their output. And, they seem to get stuck on the same recordings, like the robot on Lost in Space. "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger, Will Robinson!"
Emotions are operating states of mind. Since we are endowed with will, which is the power to choose and change; we are able to choose and change our emotions.
Likewise, we can choose as a matter of will to forgive others. That is usually the way it is done, since God does not rescind our human will, and coerce forgiveness. There are many good ways to help yourself forgive someone, short of dying on a cross. Below are 7 ways I have tried myself, and they always seem to work for me. If you find them useful, feel free to drop me a note to let me know.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you have received forgiveness by being washed, metaphorically, in the blood of the cross. What this means, is that since Jesus died in your place, the blood He shed was an act that covers your sins. If you have received this forgiveness, then you have already directly been exposed to forgiveness, first hand. He has basically given us a figurative "blood transfusion;" replacing the unforgiveness and evil nature inside of man with His own goodness, through the cleansing power of the blood. This forgiveness for our sins killed Jesus. It may kill you, figuratively to forgive some offenses. But, you have an example. You can forgive those who offend you vicariously, that is through the actions of someone else, Jesus Christ.
#2: Forgive as an Example!
If someone is always being critical of you, try forgiving them for a mistake they make. If you can't find something to forgive them for, forgive someone else in their presence. Criticism is a physical problem that can be remedied by repeated exposure to forgiveness. Seeing examples of forgiveness cures a condemning spirit. Choosing to forgive others is a way that we can demonstrate the power and forgiveness of Jesus to the world.
#3: Forgive in Proxy!
If you no longer have contact with the person who has hurt you, because of death or distance, choose a person who has the same problems or vices that the offender had, and forgive them. Remember, forgive is a verb -an action word. Physically doing something for this person to help them with a problem their vice has caused will result in an internal release of forgiveness. For example, if a parent was an alcoholic, and caused you anguish throughout your life, but they are no longer living for you to practice the action of forgiving, help someone with a drinking problem, or volunteer at a rehab clinic. Actively helping someone stop an offense that has hurt you in the past, will allow them to receive your forgiveness as a stand-in. You benefit by releasing forgiveness out of your own heart for the person who is gone, into the life of another person who will live better because of your gift of forgiveness.
#4: Forgive in Increments!
If what someone has done hurt you too deeply and traumatically for forgiveness, then choose a small part of their mistake to forgive for starters. By chipping away the unforgivable bit by bit, you will find you have no grudges left. Bitterness drains your heart's reserves. Forgiveness gives you power.
#5: Forgive early; Forgive often!
Forgiveness is accumulative. Practice forgiveness by forgiving "little crimes." Repeat as often as necessary, until you find your heart is overflowing with forgiveness. The most difficult time to forgive is when we are "running on empty" and feeling like we are drained. Store up forgiveness, because you never know when the hard years will come, and you may have to hurt for awhile. When that happens, you will be thankful that your heart is full of forgiveness, and you find it easy to release the pain into forgiving someone else, because you have been learning to forgive all along.
#6: Forgive Yourself!
Offenses hurt the offender, too. Sometimes you were punished for those things you did wrong, and that hurt. So, you need to forgive yourself for hurting yourself like that. Spend one week listing everything you've done in your life that was wrong, mean, or painful for anyone else. It will take at least a week, because we often block our own offenses out of our memory. Write it down even if you weren't caught, because you suffered mentally, and emotionally in some way for having done it: guilt, shame, bad dreams, fear of discovery. You can keep a running list in a note-taking app like Evernote. After 7 days, mark the offenses off your list one at a time as you tell yourself you are forgiven. This may sound like faulty logic for a moment, unless you realize, you really are being forgiven, because you are forgiven by yourself. You may not be forgiven by the person you wronged, but you forgive yourself.
#7: Forgive like Jesus!
The mercy you get is the mercy you give from your own heart. It works like the circulatory sstem I mentioned at the beginning. Forgiveness pumped out; forgiveness pumped in! Bitterness out; bitterness in! Mercy out; mercy in! This flow chart assures us that we get what we give. Jesus forgave us of all the sins and offenses we have ever committed. If you are yet unforgiven, you can repent, or turn from your sins right this very moment, and be converted to the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate forgiver. He gives, and He forgives, and He keeps on giving. His heart works! If we close our hearts up, and refuse to allow mercy and forgiveness to flow through us, then we will be unable to receive forgiveness ourselves. If we are already forgiven, then the same forgiveness that flows into our heart, can flow out of our hearts by an act of will, just as Jesus willed Himself to forgive on the cross. Remember, the mercy you get is the mercy you give from your own heart. Choose to forgive! Forgive like Jesus!
See also: Luke 6:37 Luke 11:4 Luke 17:3 Luke 17:4 Luke 23:34