Selfish Forgiveness

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Scientific findings have recently confirmed what we Christians have known all along. An unforgiving, grudge-holding spirit is not in our best interest. According to a report heralded by Newsweek, more than 1,200 published studies have now been conducted on the subject and the results are both consistent and conclusive: “…increased blood pressure and hormonal changes – linked to cardiovascular disease, immune suppression and, possibly, impaired neurological function and memory” are the “specific physiologic consequences” of unforgiveness.

One researcher, Everett Worthington, uses language even I can understand: “It happens down the line, but every time you feel unforgiveness, you are more likely to develop a health problem.” Dr. Dean Ornish goes even further. “In a way,” he says, “the most selfish thing you can do for yourself is to forgive other people.”

It seems the Bible has been right all along: “Blessed are the merciful…” (Matthew 5:7). “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). “Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:13). “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14,15).

I once heard of an epitaph engraved upon the headstone of an unkempt, long-forgotten grave which read, “Died of Grudgitis.” No doubt many death certificates could accurately list “grudgitis” as contributing cause of death. Have you ever heard someone snarl, through clenched teeth, “I’ll get even with them if it’s the last thing I ever do”? Too often it is.

Dalton Key
Broken Arrow, OK

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