Forgive to Live

To make a point about forgiveness, Jesus told a parable about a servant who was forgiven a large debt by his king but was, himself, unwilling to forgive a fellow servant a small debt to him. On hearing what the unmerciful servant had done,

“….In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” Jesus then says something very interesting….

“This is how my heavenly father will treat each

of  you unless you forgive your brother from

your heart.”

What! Does he really mean that I’m going to be thrown into Prison and tortured every time I fail to forgive someone? If this was true then the government would have a real “Prison Crisis” on its hands, with more people locked up in prison than free! Surely he’s made a mistake……..

……….or has he?

As a doctor it’s very common for me to see patients with all sorts of unexplained ailments; headaches, heart palpitations, abdominal pains, insomnia etc. Once the physical causes for these complaints have been eliminated I always like to ask the question, “ Is there anything that you are concerned or worried about?” Often, as the patient opens up they reveal some hurt, bitterness or even hate they have toward someone who they feel has wronged them in some way. The emotional & psychological stress is now being expressed in physical symptoms. This is not news. We know that when we are nervous we get “Butterflies in our tummies.” Or a simple lie can be detected on a machine by monitoring the change in our pulse, blood pressure and the amount that we perspire.

Our bodies respond to stresses of any kind by our pituitary gland in our brain sending a signal to our adrenal glands, which sit on top of our kidneys, to release Cortisol & Adrenaline. These chemicals work together to prepare our bodies for “ Fight or Flight” meaning that they prepare us for fighting or running away. They do this by raising the blood pressure and pulse rate, diverting blood away from the gut and towards the muscles, suppressing the immune system so that we will not bruise so easily when struck. These adaptations, and many more, form what we call a “Stress Response”. It is a perfect way that God has designed to help us respond to a changing environment.

The problem comes when this Stress Response is constantly at work. This happens when we harbor negative emotions toward each other such as bitterness, anger, hate & vengeance the root of these feelings is unforgiveness. When this happens we are constantly releasing cortisol & adrenaline into our blood. This leads to many serious problems:

Hypertension (high blood pressure), as adrenaline continues to over-stimulate the heart and cause the arteries to constrict, our blood pressure slowly rises. This can lead to strokes, heart disease & kidney failure.

Constant high levels of cortisol raise our blood sugar levels and may induce Diabetes.

As Cortisol lowers our immune response, the body then becomes more susceptible to infections & Cancer.

The unforgiving nature can also lead us into Depression, solitude & isolation

It seems evident that by not forgiving we expose ourselves to a life of torment, torture & imprisonment through disease. One man said:

“Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting

your enemy die from it.”

It only hurts us! That’s why Jesus was so keen for us to forgive, so that we could be released from prison.

Nobody says that it’s easy but just think of the debt that has been paid for us on the cross by Christ so that we can be forgiven. Whatever has been done to us cannot compare to that.

“Unless you forgive, you cannot be forgiven.”

Matthew 6:14 & 15

Release yourself from prison today, Forgive & Live.

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