How To Forgive Is Part of Christian Living - Forgiveness Sets You Free
Everyone Needs Forgiveness
Everyone needs forgiveness at one time or another. We need this forgiveness because we are not perfect and we offend others, ourselves and God. These offense can be quite small and hardly worth mentioning to a rather "large offense".
The misconception of forgiveness is that forgiveness includes forgetting. That is not the case.
Forgiveness is not avoidance. When there is serious hurting, the relationship is cracking apart. The hurt needs to be dealt with to repair the relationship.
Forgiveness is not excusing the action. People, and we are included in this, hurt one another for whatever reason. We must take responsibility for our actions. We must also expect others to take responsibility for their actions.
Forgiveness is not reconciliation -.It doesn't mean one has to become best friends with the one forgiven. People posses evil and they may be muck stirrers. There are certain kinds of people to keep out of your life. Get rid of the negative, the gossips, the troublemakers.
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Proverbs 22:24-25
Forgiveness is defined as canceling a debt also as giving up resentment. Forgiveness is to let go and to cancel the debt. To forgive we must let go of the anger, the resentment, the revenge and to cancel whatever they owe. It doesn't mean to forgo justice.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
The Positive Side Effects Of Forgiveness
The side effects of forgiveness are positive. First when one forgives they are released from the past. "To forgive is set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you." Lewis B Smedes
Forgiveness is holding onto the past and harboring bitterness, revenge and entitlement. These are all negative emotions that tie one to the past. And the part of the past that is not positive. Unforgivness is brooding over split milk. It causes stress in the body.
There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed, anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health." says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic
Other studies confirm or go further and include
- Greater spiritual well-being
- Better psychological well-being
- Fewer depression symptoms
- Reduced anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Stronger immune system
- Higher self-esteem
- Improved heart health
- Greater satisfaction with life
- Less nervousness and sadness
- Better family, romantic and professional relationships
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health. Proverbs 15:30
It is great that science confirms the Bible once again. These Proverbs are saying that we should be concentrating on the good. Put those things that trouble us behind and look forward to a bright future.
Why We Need To Forgive
More important than the health benefits listed above is the fact, we are forgiven. Jesus Christ paid for all of sins when he died for us on the cross. God no longer counts our sins against us. All we have to do is believe and confess that Jesus is the Christ and He is risen.
Even the faith to believe is a gift from God. Forgiveness is a part of the grace of God - the unmerited favor God gives each of us.
Christians should reflect the love of God to others and to ourselves.
We are commanded to forgive.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV
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. Matthew 18:21-22 ESV
We are commanded to forgive not just once and not just when we are in the mood. Forgiving is a choice not a feeling. If it was a feeling, how could we forgive on command?
When the anger rises up, when the bitterness starts to take over, when revenge starts to seep into the thought process it is time to choose to forgive. Say those magical words, I forgive _____________ for ____________. Fill in the blanks with the name and the offense.
Listen t the conversation in your head. If we are honest with ourselves, we would say that we are our worst critic. There is much negative self-talk going on in our heads.
Let's forgive ourselves for doing the wrong thing. Let's forgive ourselves for saying the wrong thing. Let's forgive ourselves for wrong thoughts and failures.
Forgiving is done out of love. There can not be hate and forgiveness existing in the same mind.
For no one has ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, as the Messiah does the church. Ephesians 5:29
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.‘ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
When we love ourselves we don't condemn ourselves. Love is about encouragement and correction, about wanting what is in the best interest of the person, and it is about sacrifice.
Sacrifice the right to condemn oneself, deny the thoughts of inferiority, sacrifice the name calling.
Practice this and notice how it feels. Just say "I forgive myself" and say it again and again.
Forgiving others and ourselves will produce benefits more than a person can imagine. There will be numerous health and psychological benefits as well as relationship and spiritual benefits.
The reduction in stress , being freed from the past, being able to look to a bright future and a growing relationship with God are worth choosing and learning how to forgive.