Recently, I was browsing the internet and read a secular article which contained a list of things to do to become healthier. The majority of the items in the list had to do with diet and exercise, but the last item caught me by surprise…forgiveness. I was not surprised that forgiving others is related to our health but that I was hearing this advice from what I consider a secular source.
As a Christian I understand the many benefits forgiveness offers, but I never considered how many physical benefits it has. Unforgiveness causes stress, and stress definitely affects our physical health. When we forgive someone, the stress, anger, and hatred that built up inside of us is released. Or perhaps, we suppress our feelings of hurt and choose not to think about our unforgiveness. This has caused negative attitudes and depression in my own life at times, but when I forgive someone those feelings are released, and I can be positive and joyful once again.
No matter how unforgiveness affects you physically; it WILL affect you spiritually. Read what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15:
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Also, consider this parable of the unforgiving servant from Matthew 18:21-35:
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Not only does forgiveness affect your spirituality, it determines it! If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you. This is important to understand, but more importantly, God wants to forgive you. He only requires one thing: for you to ask Him.
The women in my church are currently reading The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartin, and forgiveness is the topic of the chapter we are reading. Stormie brings out some great truths about forgiveness. She states that forgiveness is an every day decision. We may have forgiveness toward someone today, but that doesn’t mean we will tomorrow. Did you catch the word “decision” earlier? Forgiveness is NOT a feeling. Stormie says:
“If we wait for good feelings, we could end up waiting a lifetime.”
She also mentions that forgiving someone doesn’t justify what they have done or that they are right. It proves that we will trust God to deal with that person instead of dealing with them ourselves. It also frees us to be the person the God wants us to be. That is why forgiveness is the best revenge.
Forgiving is one of the most loving things we can do. Stormie challenges us one more time in closing:
“It’s always going to be easy to find things to be unforgiving about. We have to stop looking.”
I would like to leave you with an example of forgiveness that I have found to be quite inspiring, click here to read the story.
How has forgiveness or unforgiveness affected your physical and/or spiritual health?