Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, you can gain health benefits for yourself when you forgive someone else. The article lists eight specific health benefits that can come your way when you let go of a grudge. These benefits include the following: healthier relationships; less anxiety; lower blood pressure; a stronger immune system; improved heart health; and improved self-esteem.
Without a doubt, such an article is a vivid reminder of what can happen when, for whatever reason, you and I choose to allow sinful resentment and bitterness to fester within us. As Solomon rightly warns, “Anger lodges in the heart of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9 ESV).
And so, as we consider all we have to gain by letting old grudges go, are these good reasons for us to forgive others? Yes, they are. And no, they are not.
Sure, we could grant forgiveness to others, reap the health benefits, and then congratulate ourselves for having upgraded the quality of our lives. But in doing so, you and I would miss the profound beauty of what forgiveness truly is.
Enter Jesus. God the Son entered our broken, hate-filled world. On our behalf, he lived a life of perfect patience, perfect kindness, perfect compassion. Then, to purchase full forgiveness for our every grudge, our every resentful thought, Jesus went to the cross to suffer and die for the entirety of our sinful, self-righteous arrogance.
But here’s the point. Jesus endured all this not to lower his blood pressure, not to boost his immune system, not to improve his self-esteem. He did it out of a selfless, other-centered, sacrificial kind of love that you and I will never fully grasp. Jesus did this out of love for you and me. He did it because we needed him to.
That’s the kind of love we possess in Jesus Christ. And it is that love that empowers you and me to forgive others.
Lord Jesus, move me to forgive others as you have forgiven me. Amen.