The Fringe Benefits of Forgiveness. (Part 3 of 3)

But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matt 6:15)

Did you know that unforgiveness is one of the biggest causes for sickness in the world. Bitterness and unforgiveness make you physically sick. Forgiveness is the key to a healthy life. This is not just theology – it has been observed by the medical profession for years.

In 1st Corinthians 11:30 when Paul is talking about communion he states that many are sick and even die in the body of Christ because they do not “judge the body rightly.” I believe the body he is speaking of here is the body of Christ, or the Church. This idea of judging rightly the body of Christ has to do with the fact that we do not see each other as Christ does. Remember He has forgiven, and sees each of us as though we had never sinned. When we judge others in the body as guilty of harming us, when Christ sees them as holy and forgiven, we give the enemy a foothold – a place to hang on.

One other facet of this is a tendency for us to hold onto condemnation of ourselves. The argument above stands for self condemnation as well as the condemnation of those around us in the body of Christ. I know it sounds like psycho-babble, but the fact is many saints who stand forgiven before God, do not see themselves as God sees them, and so they live in condemnation. Living in condemnation has a number of horrible effects.

First off, it is the easiest way to get “stuck” spiritually. What do I mean by stuck? I am talking about that inability to move forward in your relationship with God. Perhaps it is a sin you cannot overcome, or a prayer life you can’t get off the ground.

Another effect of self-condemnation is your inability to overcome a chronic illness. In the same way unforgiveness can make us sick, self condemnation has a kind of double down effect. Not only do you have the stresses of unforgiveness that can cause illness, but the guilt and condemnation give you no hope of breaking free. This is due to the fact that when you think you deserve something – whether as a just punishment, or because there is a good natural reason, you do not feel the same sense of righteous indignation that would stir your ability to fight.

For instance, if two men have lung cancer, and one has been a smoker for 20 years, and weighs 400 lbs, eats poorly, and has never cared for his health, and the other is a 24 year old Olympian athlete who has never eaten anything but organic food, never smoked, when you pray for the young man, you will pray a passionate prayer about justice and how unfair it is that this man has cancer. On the other hand, for the old heavy smoker, you might be more likely to pray a prayer asking for mercy from God.

The same thing is going on inside them. The old smoker will feel it is his fault, and that he deserves this punishment. After all, how many surgeon general’s warnings did he crumple up and throw away?

But the stripes that Jesus bore actually paid for those 20 years of foolishness, and they are just as gone as any other sin that would make this man guilty. [Tweet This] And God is just as able, and just as willing to heal in either case.

While I am on the subject of fairness, I want to throw one more aspect on the table. Sometimes we stay sick because there is a cause for our sickness. We may not be at fault, but we see that there is a cause. This is common in accident victims. The accident may not have been your fault, so you don’t feel the blame or self-condemnation, but the fact that there is a cause, a good reason for you to be in pain, allows the enemy a place to hold on.

What do you think? I hope these 3 posts on forgiveness give you hope, and help you to deal with the hard stuff of living in relationships.

If you missed the last two in this series they were - Forgive It or Forget It!  and Can a Christian have Unforgiveness?

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

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Ash tray photo credit: frigante via photo pin cc

0 thoughts on “The Fringe Benefits of Forgiveness. (Part 3 of 3)

  1. closefamilies

    What a great post. I particularly love the bit about sickness. My son has cystic fibrosis, and since his diagnosis, I've met many, many people from all over the world, in all different ages, and every one of them is effected in different ways by this disease. However, one trend that is strong and true among those that are healthy vs those that are always sick and in the hospital with this disease... Those who embrace the disease and have an attitude that says, "I have CF, but CF doesn't have ME." are more healthy and happy. Those who hate the disease and seem to have anger towards it seem to have much more of a struggle with it. Our attitude is everything.. towards others just as much as towards ourselves. Amen.

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  2. Caddo Veil

    Good work, brother Ben. I know that in my case, carrying the bitter resentment about long years of abuse translated into a chronic physical pain issue--which then morphed into a dependency on prescription pain meds. So I had inadvertently doubled my original ills. I'm elated to report that, by partnering with God, we took care of the whole mess--not all in one fell swoop, mind you, but in far fewer years than it had taken to accumulate the grievous burden. Victorious over-comer--that's me, with God! May He bless you abundantly today--love, sis Caddo

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