5 AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS OF FORGIVINGForgiveness can be described as love in action… an expression of the very nature of Love. Eph 1:7 says “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” The concepts of love, grace, redemption and forgiveness become intertwined as an outpouring of the nature of God, bringing us value, freedom, peace and life without limit.
When we enter into a relationship with God, the deal is that His love changes us so we become more like Him. By accepting His forgiveness we no longer have to live under the cloud of wrongdoing, unworthiness, negativity and fear. His love grows in us so we become new creatures in Him. This means that we start expressing the qualities of love - including forgiveness.
We understand at least some of the spiritual implications of this amazing gift of grace, but what are its effects on us mentally/emotionally and physically?
- It gives your heart a break. In a 1999 study conducted by Hope College in Holland, Mich, researchers found that people who forgave had lower blood pressure, heart rate, facial muscle tension and stress-induced sweating than those who bore a grudge.
- It helps you sleep better. We know how important sleep is to our overall physical functioning, and in a 2005 study published in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine, researchers described a direct and significant correlation between a person’s consciously forgiving another and the quality of their sleep. This impacted on their levels of fatigue, medications used and overall physical wellness.
- It strengthens your immune system. Researchers at Duke University conducted a study in 2011 in which they compared the levels of CD4 immune cells of AIDS patients who practiced forgiveness to other AIDS patients who chose to hold on to resentments. They found that those who forgave had a significantly higher CD4 count, showing the immune strengthening benefits of forgiveness in even those who are severely immune compromised.
- It makes you live longer and stronger. A 2014 article in the Journal of Health Psychology reports a study that shows that stress degrades health while forgiveness protects health over a person’s lifetime. The implications are that lifetime stress is reduced by forgiveness, leading to improved quality and quantity of life.
- It makes you feel happier. University of Tennessee researchers found that research subjects who forgave felt significantly less tension, anger and depression. Their overall experience of life was more positive and peaceful, leading to greater mental/emotional health.
All of this supports Lewis B. Smedes’ statement that “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Let’s invest our energy in love, freedom and forgiveness.