“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. If you forgive other people when they sin against you – willfully and recklessly, then your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you refuse to do your part, nurturing your hurt and anger, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 [MSG, NIV, AMP, Voice]
The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
The Voice Commentary says
“ Jesus says to declare forgiveness of those who have wronged us. This is because forgiveness of other people emulates God’s forgiveness of us.”
Let’s consider this idea of emulating – or imitating.
God’s forgiveness of our sins is expressed throughout the narrative of scripture, and we see it very clearly in His revelation to Moses in Exodus 34: 6-7 when He passed by showing His glory. The essence of God’s glorious love is expressed like this:
“Yahweh, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.
Still, he doesn’t ignore sin, He does not allow sin to go unpunished, rather He holds people responsible for the consequences of sin throughout generational lines.”
My theological premise is this: 1. We are created in the image of God, 2. forgiveness is part of the nature of God, 3. therefore, forgiveness should be part of the essential nature of His people.
Forgiveness is Good For You
Practicing forgiveness is not only the right thing to do, it is also psychologically and physically beneficial.
I am a bit of a student of the connections between worship, emotionally healthy spirituality and brain science and neurology.
Google something like this “psychological effects of forgiveness” You’re going to find that the scientific and medical evidence is overwhelming and conclusive.
Un-forgiveness – that is harboring resentment, bitterness and grudges has terrible consequences for your health. Anger is toxic to your mental and physical health. Habitually rehearsing negative feelings amps up your stress levels, and stress kills. Chronic stress can cause severe issues like cardiovascular diseases high blood pressure, and hormonal imbalance.
Un-forgiveness affects cognitive abilities and impacts communication skills, thinking abilities and the decision making power of a person.
Holding a grudge – or Harboring a negative emotional state can cause a number of long-term mental health problems including depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and mental instability.
I’m not making this up, this is from credible medical sources like John’s Hopkins, the Mayo clinic, and others
Unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. When you maintain a “victim mentality”, you are giving your power, your self-control over to something or someone else. Holding on to resentment and offenses is like you going to jail for the crime of the person who did you wrong.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, has numerous physiological benefits. Forgiveness is literally an element of healing. It’s good for the body – your brain, your heart, your immune system. It’s also good for your soul – your mind, your will and your emotions.
Forgiveness will set you free.
How to forgive?
It’s more than just saying or thinking “I forgive you”, and that’s the end of it.
Practicing forgiveness is an internal process, and it may take a long time. On a scale of 1-10, you may be at a 5 or 6 today but you just want to keep moving towards experiencing greater levels of peace by “letting go” peace, when you remember the trigger – the person or events.
Dr. Thomas Plant in an article on Psychology Today says that:
The secret sauce in forgiveness is letting go of anger. In my clinical practice… Those who do well and cope best in life … have found some way to forgive themselves and others. They have worked hard to let go of the anger and resentment and moved on. They don’t forget and they don’t allow themselves to continue to be victimized. They let go of the anger and choose to forgive (whether it’s deserved or not).
Jesus gave us very simple words of wisdom that actually, are the healthiest thing we can do for others and ourselves.
So my friends … the mindset of a worshiper is to practice forgiveness, and develop an un-offendable heart. Why? Because clearly, it’s what Jesus instructs us to do, it’s the right thing to do, and like the rest of God’s ways that seem counterintuitive – it’s for our ultimate good.
As he was hanging and dying on the cross he prayed for those who were killing him, he prayed for you and for me – “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
Let us be people who choose to forgive.
Father, forgive us our sins; and help us to forgive others as you have already forgiven us. For Jesus sake. In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Daily Worship Devotionals is a 5-minute podcast dedicated to studying the Word of God and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Currently, we are following the Christian year calendar as our framework. We’re in the season of Lent – a time of self-examination and repentance as we journey with Christ to the cross.