Forgiving is an active action that lessens the load of a sinner. And it requires effort.

One of the first times we see “forgive” is after the death of Jacob. Joseph’s brothers feared Joseph after Jacob their father died. They thought Joseph wanted to repay them for their evil. So “they sent someone to talk to Joseph.” This person said, “Forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly…forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father” (Genesis 50:17). Here, “forgive” can mean many things. But we can guess it means to “lift,” “take,” or “carry away.” For Joseph’s brothers did not want Joseph to bear their sins. Neither did his brothers want Joseph to accept, exalt, or regard their sins. They wanted Joseph to not hold their sins against them. Their wish shows us when a person forgives someone of her or his sin, that person does something for the sinner. Now we could take this action as lessening the load of a sinner. Imagine someone carrying a heavy load of rocks. Then someone sees this person and offers to lift, take, or carry away the rocks for the load-carrying person. In this case, to forgive lightens the load of the one who bears the load. Still, to forgive does not depend on the merit of a person. For we cannot say Joseph’s brothers deserved to have their load lessened. Nonetheless, we need to give an effort to forgive. For “Lifting,” “taking,” and “carrying away,” need energy. In other words, they are not passive actions.