The Relationship Between Unforgiveness and Stress
Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive (Colossians 3:13 – Amplified).
Perhaps every day of our lives we will face opportunities to forgive those who harm us in some way. Life in a fallen world means facing imperfections at every turn. Wise living is knowing how to deal with the imperfections of others! I seek to live by Romans 12: 18: If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. That means I must be willing to practice what Jesus said to Peter when He told him to forgive 490 times (infinitely) the brother that offends him.
Failing to forgive produces some major problems and one of them is stress. Medical research indicates that the majority of illness is stress induced, so unforgiveness plays a significant role in sickness. Proverbs 14:30 (Amplified) reads: A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.
Unforgiveness means holding on to a certain thought pattern about a person or event. That thought pattern creates emotional hurt and pain. And if the thought pattern is not dealt with by releasing forgiveness to the offending party, then it cogitates underneath the surface in subconscious thinking. And this type of underlying negative thought pattern saps needed physical strength.
I’ve had people over my years of ministry tell me that they are tired all the time. They feel drained of strength. After speaking with these people I have found that often they are carrying a list of grievances in these underlying thought patterns and their emotions are draining them of needed energy. They simply need to practice forgiveness. There’s a lot of wisdom in Ephesians 4:26: Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath. Each day we should clear our mind and emotions of the offences of others before we go to sleep.
In her book Who Switched Off My Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf from South Africa mentions that thoughts release chemicals into every organ of our body through our central nervous system. She mentions that all thoughts basically come under two categories, faith based or fear based thoughts. She reveals that fear based thinking releases toxic chemicals that coats the cells of our bodies and can eventually make us ill. On the other hand, faith based thinking that trusts God and expects the best; likewise releases helpful chemicals that aid the body and help it resist illness.
Unforgiveness affects our spiritual life. According to Jesus, you can’t go to heaven with it in your life (See Matthew 18:35 and Mark 11:25-26). And unforgiveness affects our physical bodies, hindering the health and healing provided to us by the Father.
Make a choice today to quickly deal with each offence. Readily and freely forgive as the Father through Christ Jesus has forgiven you. You’ll find heaven’s smile, soundness of mind, clearness of emotion, and renewed physical strength when you choose the path of forgiveness!