Forgiveness is very important for both your psychological and spiritual health. In Matthew 18: 21-35, the parable of the unforgiving servant, shows us the importance and duty of forgiveness. The servant begged for forgiveness from the master, and was forgiven. But, when a man asked for forgiveness from the servant the servant refused to forgive him. What the man expected he in fact refused to give the same due to another, his servant. Is this how God wants us to act? Forgiveness is the answer.
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
The Mayo Clinic has an interesting take on forgiveness. The Mayo Clinic tell us the benefits of forgiving the person who has wronged you.
From the Mayo Clinic:
Letting go of grudges and bitterness makes way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic pain
- Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?
When you're hurt by someone you love and trust, you may become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility may take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you may find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.
What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you're unforgiving, you may pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life may become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present. You may become depressed or anxious. You may feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You may lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.
How do I reach a state of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. A way to begin is by recognizing the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time. Then reflect on the facts of the situation, how you've reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being. When you're ready, actively choose to forgive the person who's offended you. Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life. As you let go of grudges, you'll no longer define your life by how you've been hurt. You may even find compassion and understanding.
What happens if I can't forgive someone?
Forgiveness can be challenging. It may be particularly hard to forgive someone who doesn't admit wrong or doesn't speak of his or her sorrow. If you find yourself stuck, it may help to write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation. You may want to talk with a person you've found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an unbiased family member or friend. You may also want to reflect on times you've hurt others and on those who've forgiven you. Keep in mind that forgiveness has the potential to increase your sense of integrity, peace and overall well-being.
What if the person I'm forgiving doesn't change?
Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn't the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you more peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness takes away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.
What if I'm the one who needs forgiveness?
Consider admitting the wrong you've done to those you've harmed, speaking of your sincere sorrow or regret, and specifically asking for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can't force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Simply acknowledge your faults and admit your mistakes. Then commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.
I highly recommend that you visit In God's Company 2 to see a powerful example of forgiveness.