Summary: Total forgiveness is necessary for our spiritual, psychological, and physical health.
March 12, 2006
Did you see the news report earlier in the week about Charles Cullen? He is the nurse given 6 life terms for the murders of 40 patients under his care. At one point in Friday’s proceedings they had to physically gag the defendant because of his outbursts in court. At one point one of the son’s-in-law of one of Cullen’s victims out of frustration yelled out how he hopes Cullen will burn for all eternity for his actions.
On a humane level we may understand how a family of a crime victim could feel this way, especially after such a heinous crime. Yet study after study has verified what scripture knows to be true. Total forgiveness is necessary for our spiritual, psychological, and physical health.
Total forgiveness is essential but, to be honest, is difficult. The reason? Forgiving persons who have wronged us is contrary to human nature. The world would say to us, “You have the right to be angry, to carry a grudge, after all, you were severely wronged! No one blames you for how you feel.”
Psychologists and physicians tell us just how harmful not being willing to forgive can be to our health. When we hold on to and nurse harsh feelings toward another, stress is produced. This stress can cause anything from mental illness to high blood pressure to ulcers to not being able to get the rest our bodies require.
We are plainly instructed in the gospels to forgive. For instance (read Mt. 6:14-15) Do you see that? If you don’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven. Jesus himself gives us a lesson on total forgiveness in our scripture reading this morning from Luke 23.
--Give details and elaborate in own words of events leading up to the crucifixion--wrongly accused, mocked, spat upon, beaten severely, nailed to a cross, and killed. Yet before he dies he says, “Forgive them…” Forgive who? To be sure, those who nailed Him to the cross. Forgive even those who had falsely accused Him and now stand at the foot of the cross mocking Him and wagging their heads at Him. Forgive those gambling at the foot of the cross for His only earthly possession. But forgive you and me as well. Forgive humanity and bring them into a reconciled relationship with God.
God has given us a mandate to forgive in His word.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph. 4:32
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Col. 3:13
These two passages have in common the mandate to forgive but there is one more thing they have in common. Let me ask you this. Would you want the level of your forgiveness from God to be based upon your level of granting forgiveness to others? Remember, as the Eph. And Col. Passage says, we are to forgive because we have been forgiven.
Is forgiveness easy? Some instances may be easier than others--but forgiving persons who have wronged you can be difficult--yet it is essential to our own spiritual health.