Something to Think About
April 21, 2012 by Meshawn Senior
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that…
…the prisoner was you.
~ Louis Shmedes
All of us have been hurt by someone at some time in our lives. It may have been a friend or family member, a significant other, or a complete stranger. It’s understandable that we would hold feelings of unforgiveness towards those who have betrayed our trust. But while the person who hurt us goes on with their lives, we are giving them permission to continue hurting us by replaying their trespass against us over and over in our minds and continuing to harbor feelings of bitterness and resentment towards them.
Studies have shown that prolonged negative emotions such as unforgiveness actually create chemical reactions in the body which, over time, can cause sickness and disease. These intense emotions cause increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, increased perspiration, as well as a host of other physiological changes. (Read about it here.)
Not only does unforgiveness wreak havoc on us physiologically, it also hinders our spiritual relationship with God. How many of us have said “The Lord’s Prayer” as modeled by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13? It’s a very powerful prayer to recite. However, if we notice in Verse 12, it says, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.“ So basically when we say this, we’re asking God to forgive us “as” or “the same way” that we forgive others. This should make us think twice the next time we pray this prayer. We may want to examine ourselves and make sure we have no bitter feelings towards anyone.
Also of note, a few verses later in Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus adds, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” So if we don’t forgive others, then God the Father will not forgive us. What a sobering thought!
So what exactly is involved in the act of forgiving someone? Does this mean we condone what they’ve done to us? Absolutely not! What it does mean, though, is that we let go of the bitterness and resentment that we have against them. Even if the offense was great, God can help us to let go of it and forgive. He commands this of us, so He will make a way for us to accomplish it.
Also, forgiving doesn’t mean that we should blindly trust the person again who has wronged us. We should proceed with caution – especially if they have not changed their behavior and may still have the propensity to continue in whatever act that caused us to lose trust in them. Remember, God also commands us to be “wise as serpents but harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) And because every situation is different, we need to pray about each one. God will have to reveal to us the right way to handle each person who has offended us – even after we’ve forgiven them.
So we see that unforgiveness is a state of mind that keeps us in bondage – not only physically and emotionally, but also spiritually. We must choose to forgive others – if not for their sakes, then for our own overall well-being.
Just something to think about…