Why should we forgive people who wrong us? Research suggests that forgiving
- Lowers blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormone release
- Promotes better mental and physical health
- Decreases pain, depression and anger in chronic low back pain patients
- Improves marriages. . . the list goes on
So is this why we forgive? From the beginning of His teaching Jesus instructs His disciples that forgiveness is a hallmark character trait of those who follow Him. The emotional and health effects are just great side benefits.
In the past I have needed to forgive someone whom I did not think "deserved forgiveness." What an arrogant thought! I actually believed that my un-forgiveness would cause suffering for this person. But, instead, I was the one who experienced tremendous anxiety and tension caused by my anger and refusal to forgive.
The restoration of broken relationships is at the heart of Jesus' teaching. It certainly is for those who accept His forgiveness. But He forgave long before we accepted it. What an example to us as His followers. Are we willing to forgive with or without the acceptance of the person who has wronged us? The forgiveness provided by Jesus comes at a great price. Why do we think that it will come easily in our human relationships?
So should we forgive in order to maintain better health and relationships? Certainly that is good. But as we follow Jesus, imitating his forgiving character opens our hearts to Him and enables us to be used by Him. We become transformed by forgiving. Let us start today by imitating the forgiveness Jesus demonstrated to us.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)
Sharing the journey with you,