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One of the hardest things for people to truly do is to forgive someone who has said or done something that has hurt or offended them. Yet, I know in and throughout the Bible, God tells us -- commands us -- to forgive. We are even to go so far as to forgive our enemies. In fact, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells Peter to forgive not seven times, but 77 times.

When you say you have forgiven someone, have you truly forgiven them?

Are you saying it because it is true, or because you feel it is the right thing to say? Many people say they have forgiven someone, and yet they use the very things they "forgave" against them later. They bring up past transgressions to hurt or wound the person they are angry with.

I believe that one of the reasons we are hesitant to forgive someone who has done us or someone we love wrong is that it feels as if by doing so, we are somehow legitimizing their actions. It seems like we are letting them off the hook for what they have done. It seems much easier and justified to hold on to the grudge and the bitterness than to let go of it.

The reality of it all is that forgiving is hard work. So why then should we bother?

Dr. Frederic Luskin, who is the co-founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, concluded that there is a connection between forgiveness and health.

"When you don't forgive, you release all the chemicals of the stress response. Each time you react, adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine enter the body. When it's a chronic grudge, you could think about it 20 times a day, and those chemicals limit creativity, they limit problem solving. Cortisol and norepinephrine cause your brain to enter what we call 'the no-thinking zone,' and over time, they lead you to think like a victim. When you forgive, you wipe all of that clean."

When you think about forgiveness as being necessary for your own health, that makes it a lot more palatable.


Editor's note: The Rev. Dr. Scott Stewart is the pastor of Pea Ridge United Methodist Church and Brightwater Methodist Church. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. He can be contacted at or 479-659-9519.

Religion on 06/12/2019

Print Headline: Forgive: It's good for your health!

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