As Christians, we are taught early in life the importance of forgiveness and letting go.
John 1:9 tells us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Jesus preaches forgiveness prominently and often, and we are told to embrace this as His children. Yet, the act of forgiving someone can be easier said than done.
The Bible can teach us much about the value of forgiveness. And, forgiveness can connect us to similar emotions that are important to Christians, such as empathy, compassion, and understanding.
This article will cover what the Bible tells us about forgiveness, as well as the mental and physical benefits the act of forgiving can have.
The Bible teaches us the importance of forgiveness. Let’s take a look at two prominent verses that demonstrate that:
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).
These verses explain how we should be as understanding of others as Jesus is of us.
Luke 6:37 explains: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
As Christ often demonstrated to us during His ministry, we should treat others as we wish to be treated.
Forgiveness doesn’t just help us heal from the wrongs that were done to us. It also increases our sense of happiness and growth.
It is hard to move on and be productive when we are stuck in the past and focused on the hurt others caused us. It is important not to focus on negative emotions, as this can keep us rooted in pain.
If we choose to keep pain and resentment in our hearts, it will continue to harm us.
Holding onto such pain and hurt does not bother the person who has hurt us. It just continues to dwell and live in our minds and our hearts. This is not healthy.
Giving in to resentment and letting it eat away at our hearts and souls leads to bitterness and hatred — which is certainly not what God wants for us.
We must learn to let go of these negative emotions so our souls can prosper as we embrace everything Jesus has given to us in this life to enjoy.
Do not make the mistake that forgiveness means you must forget the harm that someone has caused you.
The act of forgiving does not even mean you have to reconcile with the person who has wronged you. Instead, practicing true forgiveness helps you gain a sense of peace and wellness within yourself, which offers you peace of mind.
Not only is forgiveness good for your mental health, which includes your heart, soul, and mind, science has also shown that forgiveness is healthy for our brains and bodies as well.
Holding back from forgiveness can negatively impact your immune system and general physical health.
Plus, studies have proven that the act of forgiving results in health benefits such as a decrease in anxiety, high blood pressure, anger, and depression.
It isn’t easy to forgive something that happened in the past and move forward ahead into the future.
However, forgiveness doesn’t just give us a powerful feeling of inner freedom. Improved heart health, increased mental health, and a stronger immune system are all impacts of forgiveness on the body.
The Bible teaches us: “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9).
To truly forgive can be difficult — whether we are forgiving a co-worker, family member, or anyone else in our lives. But, the spiritual, mental, and physical benefits make the challenges of forgiving worth it.
Forgiveness is a process. You must make the conscious decision to let go of the pain and stress that came from being hurt in the first place. Then, you must acknowledge the pain that accompanies the act of being wronged.
Once you connect with that pain, you can learn how it is hurting you and what it is that you need to begin healing.
You shouldn’t bottle up your feelings.
Bottling up feelings can cause anxiety, so let these feelings out safely and productively. There is no one right way to do this — find what works for you. Scream into a pillow, write in a journal, or share with a friend or counselor.
Stay away from blame. Blame is not a productive feeling. Instead, it just deters progress and is a way to avoid taking responsibility for the feelings you are trying to work through.
The next step many will find difficult. When you have a better sense of clarity, try flipping the situation you experienced. Imagine yourself in the other person's position.
By no means are you condoning the experience you went through — you are just changing your lens to get a different perspective on the situation.
We are all human beings, and to be able to see a situation from another person's point of view can help us exercise compassion and understanding.
Another part of forgiveness is taking action, which can be small at first. No matter how small the action you take may seem, it is still better than sitting with the past in your pain.
An important trait to remember during this journey is mindfulness, which means being conscious and aware. Having a mindful mental state will allow you to be present in the moment and experience your feelings and thoughts.
Lastly, remind yourself that through this experience, you are growing as a person. Even if you struggle, your self-esteem and self-compassion are growing, as well as your feelings of empathy.
You are becoming stronger.
Why should we forgive someone if the person who has wronged us hasn't apologized or asked for our forgiveness?
This is when we, as Christians, need to take the higher road. We should follow Christ’s example and choose not to harbor resentment and negative feelings.
Colossians 3:13 tells us: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Without the love and mercy of Jesus, we would not be able to ask for the forgiveness of our own sins. His gift of forgiveness is what allows us to spend eternal life with Him.
Not only will our ability to forgive help us live in His image, but it also aids us in living more productive and healthy lifestyles.
For more guidance on how to strengthen yourself for the better, download the pray.com app on the iOS App Store and Google Play.