Another post with my thoughts from reading Health Care You Can Live With by Dr. Scott Morris, founder of the Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Chapter 20 of Morris’ book is on forgiveness. This topic is of such significance that it will be the only chapter covered in this post.
Excerpts From Chapter 20 – “Put On Forgiveness”
Paul (the author of many books in the New Testament) knows relationships are going to hit snags. We’re going to annoy each other. We’re going to disappoint each other. We’re going to wound each other. Deeply. We’re going to think there’s no going back.… Bearing with each other, and the forgiveness that results, has nothing to do with deserving it. Paul loves to remind readers of God’s unconditional love for them and God’s unbounded forgiveness. This is the basis of our forgiveness of one another. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We offer gracious pardon to those who offend us because we know God’s gracious pardon of us.
“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
Forgiveness is healing to the one who was forgiven. This we experience most fully in God’s forgiveness of us. God’s forgiveness of our offenses restores our relationship with God, and we have a picture of the healing we can offer to others in forgiveness. This gift keeps us in community with people who care for us by building bridges rather than tearing them down and walking away.
Forgiveness also is healing to the person who forgives. This we experience when we forgive others. When we offer forgiveness, we received the healing that comes from letting go of the grievance and being no longer held captive by a thirst for vengeance. This means less anxiety and depression and a better overall sense of well-being. It means having more energy to devote to what brings joy to you rather than wasting energy on what does not.
Forgiving another person is good for your health. Do you owe someone an apology? Have you hurt someone, whether you meant to or not? Are you harboring an offense even if outwardly you say it doesn’t matter? Perhaps it is time to let go of being right so you can experience joy in that relationship. By offering forgiveness and restoring the relationship, you can bring healing both to yourself and to the other person.
And what anger are you hoping against yourself? Perhaps you just cannot get past a decision or impulsive act that brought harmful or lasting consequences to your life. Maybe you’re stuck in a habit you despise but can’t seem to quit. Perhaps hateful words ring in your head because you can’t believe they came out of your mouth. Maybe you fall and fall short of your expectations for yourself. It’s time to forgive yourself, just as God has forgiven you.
The point of forgiveness is restoration and a return to wholeness of relationship. That includes the health of your relationship with yourself. How you see yourself covers how you see other people. You don’t have to be stuck for the rest of your life with a picture of yourself that says you deserve your misery when God has arms open wide to forgive you.
Treat yourself with forgiveness. It will be good for your health.
In my experience talking with and coaching people on health related matters, the issue of forgiveness very frequently comes into the picture. One of the very deepest needs that each of us has is to be forgiven. In order for our relationship with God to be restored in the very fist place, we must accept that God caused his Son to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven for our sin. In the absence of this deep level of forgiveness, we are not able to have a relationship with the God who created us. Once we receive Christ in our hearts, because we have acknowledged that he died for our sins, something mysterious happens deep in our soul and in our spirit. We are able to receive the Spirit of God within us which enables us to live life in a completely different way and from a completely different perspective. We no longer have to feel any deep shame or guilt that might otherwise plague us when we sin. God forgives us for all of our sin – past, present and future.
Because we are forgiven, God calls us to forgive ourselves and to forgive others who sin against us. This is the least we can do because his Son paid the price so that all of our sins can be forgiven.
Hanging on to bitterness, anger and resentment contributes to an unhealthy emotional state within us as well. Medical research clearly shows that when we are chronically resentful or angry the body produces chemicals that are destructive. This is not surprising in that God did not design us in such a way to carry these strong negative emotions inside of this for lengthily periods of time. No doubt, that’s one reason why Paul writes “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26
There is no way that you and I can really experience the fruit of the spirit of joy and peace and gentleness if deep within our heart and spirit we are harboring resentment and bitterness.
So, as Dr. Morris writes ,”Treat yourself with forgiveness. It’s good for your health.”
Questions to Reflect On
Is there unforgiveness in your heart? Are you angry or bitter towards someone for what has happened recently or in your past? What do you think God would like for you to do if that’s the case?
Other Resources on Forgiveness
An article on our site – Forgiveness
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