Health Benefits of Forgiveness

Forgiveness restores right relationships between individuals. In addition, forgiveness has health benefits for the person who forgives. This is shown in a book on The Power of Forgiveness by Kenneth Briggs (Fortress Press, 2008). He notes, “The most solid result is that forgiving yourself and others can be a bonanza for your heart and your blood vessels. Blood pressure goes down, therefore easing the workload on the cardio-pumper” ( p. 42).

Kathleen Lawler-Row, a professor of psychology, confirmed this finding in her studies. She reports: “The more forgiving people have lower blood pressure.  They are less aroused during stress. They recover from thinking about this [betrayal] experience more quickly.  When we look at survey samples and a variety of measures of health and fatigue, sleep, physical symptoms, number of medications, in every case the more forgiving the person the better the health” (Briggs, p. 46).

When we forgive, we are healed at the same time that we are a healer. Such is the benefit of living in God’s kingdom in this manner.

Holistic Perspective

When we consider living in God’s kingdom on earth, we need to take a holistic perspective. First, we need to consider that the Two Great Commandments are inextricably linked.You need a strong spiritual life based upon love for God to be able to love your neighbor, and Jesus’ addition, love your enemy. And you need to love other people to able to love God. “The person who doesn’t love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

Second, it is not enough to dedicate yourself to a life of prayer and worship without going out into society to show mercy and seek justice. But also it’s insufficient to engage in social action without have a strong spiritual foundation. In the Methodist tradition personal piety goes along with social holiness.

Third, if we want to obtain God’s forgiveness for our transgressions, we must first forgive others who have wronged us (Matthew 6:14-15).