The Power of Forgiveness

In the popular Christmas song My Grown-Up Christmas List, the refrain goes,

“No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end”

During this holiday season, you may have heard these familiar lyrics several times already, but perhaps it is time to really take the words to heart and understand what the songwriter was talking about in this Christmas classic. The song talks about a person’s longing to live in a world where there are no more interpersonal conflicts, and individuals are able to set aside differences for the purpose of understanding and unity.

The song is set against the backdrop of an adult who harks back to childhood and remembers the toys and other little pleasures that seemed important back then. The desire for peace and harmony with one’s sphere of influence certainly strikes a familiar chord with anyone who listens to My Grown-Up Christmas List.

As 2017 is about to close and 2018 stands ready to be welcomed, it may also be time to look back and reflect on our relationships with family members, loved ones, friends, colleagues, neighbors and others we come into contact with on a regular basis. Perhaps there were fractures, misunderstandings, or differences that occurred over the last few months or even years. These broken connections need to be restored and healed by the grace of God.

Was there someone who wronged you or treated you unfairly in the past, and you have not had the opportunity to hash things out or make things right? As believers in Christ, we are commanded to forgive those who have committed faults against us, whether intentionally or unknowingly. Jesus Christ Himself says in Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Our sins were forgiven by God, eternally wiped away and forgotten by Him when we received His free gift of salvation through His Son. Knowing this, we exhibit Christlikeness and extend God’s love by also choosing to forgive people who have wronged us, no matter how difficult it may be. This is especially important to remember in our dealings with fellow believers in the body of Christ. According to the Apostle Paul, we should “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13

With the New Year approaching, wouldn’t it be more blessed to let go of the grudges and the hurts rather than carrying them over to 2018? Unresolved anger, bitterness, and grudges weigh heavily on your mind, soul, and spirit. There have been numerous scientific and medical studies showing the link between lowered immunity and increased susceptibility to various illnesses when someone is harboring bitter or negative feelings towards others. One particular example is a 15-year study conducted by Professor Carsten Wrosch of Montreal’s Concordia University Department of Psychology, and a long-time member of the Centre for Research in Human Development.

According to Wrosch, “Persistent bitterness may result in global feelings of anger and hostility that, when strong enough, could affect a person’s physical health.” Wrosch’s findings showed that harboring bitterness for an extended period of time “may forecast patterns of biological dysregulation (a physiological impairment that can affect metabolism, immune response or organ function) and physical disease.”

Forgiving others is good for your overall health and well-being, and also shows that you are maturing in your walk with the Lord and increasing in Christlikeness. Don’t wait until longstanding feelings of anger, hostility, and suspicion wreak havoc on your health. Take time to ask for the Lord’s help in restoring those broken relationships and forgiving others as exemplified by Jesus Himself. There is power in forgiveness, and it will start your New Year in the best way possible!

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