“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors.” “For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15)
Is anyone among you afflicted (ill-treated, suffering evil)? He should pray. Is anyone glad at heart? He should sing praise [to God]. Is anyone among you sick? He should call in the church elders (the spiritual guides). And they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord’s name. And the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick, and the Lord will restore him; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. (James 5:13-16)
Is there really a connection between unforgiveness and sickness? One might argue that the two subjects were addressed separately in the Scriptures, or that one has nothing to do with the other, but I urge you to consider the possibility of how dispensing forgiveness is integral component to our health and well-being. We all get wounded by others at some point in our lives. There’s no sin in that. When we refuse to move on and we let it become a wall between us and the God who has asked us to forgive when we are wronged, it’s like applying a tourniquet to a hemorrhaging wound, but permanently. It cuts all blood flow and life off to the injured part. So one would wind up damaging or even losing the very thing he or she tried to preserve. When we refuse to forgive, it is a rebellion and therefore, sin. Making a spirit of offense a way of life can set us up for iniquity (deep, embedded sin) that is toxic to our loved ones. Look at entire cultures who live for revenge! Gangs. The Mob. We take on that same mentality of an eye-for-an-eye when we refuse to forgive. There are individuals and groups of people who are still hating and warring against one another for wrongs committed years and even centuries before they were born!
Back to the point. Forgiving those who have harmed or offended us is a critical element of healing of illnesses in our bodies. If we hold offense toward other people, it can actually hinder our recovery from sickness and can even be the root cause of certain instances of disease! And while I certainly don’t believe that every sickness is tied to unforgiveness or other sin in one’s life, I would ask you to do some honest self-assessment if you are battling a health or mental issue or other chronic problem that just won’t go away. Whether you never get well in the physical (and I believe you can), you owe it to your soul’s peace to toss some excess baggage over the side of the ship. I don’t care what excuse you’re prepared to offer me, it’s worth peace and healing to let that vendetta die and stay in the past.
Even medical science, though not necessarily enlightened as to the spiritual aspect, agrees with the assessment that unforgiveness can breed/perpetuate illness. Even if it feels unfair for you to be required to release forgiveness to someone who hurt you, please let me separate their act from your choice in my appeal for forgiveness. You had no power over what they did. You do, however, have power over what you choose to do going forward. It doesn’t mean that you are agreeing to or pleased with what they did, or that you no longer feel it was wrong. It doesn’t mean that justice no longer is applicable. It simply means that you are shifting responsibility for retribution, going forward, out of your hands and into God’s. You are no longer the jailor OR the jailed. I plead with you to value your physical, spiritual, and emotional health over the luxury of holding your offender(s) in the limbo of offense. Moreover, I plead with you to value your right standing with God in higher regard than your compulsion to hate and despise those who’ve mistreated you! The satisfaction of incubating resentment is a cheap substitute for true freedom…and it’s a poor swap for health and peace of mind.
And if it doesn’t concern you enough for your physical health, let me tell you that unforgiveness can drive you quite literally mad. I know the true story of a person whose family had a grave injustice done. I certainly don’t downplay the seriousness of what happened; but this particular member of the family would not forgive, obsessed about the situation to the point of a nervous breakdown, and now is clinically insane. That person babbles and rants all the time about what happened and is isolated from family and friends and community because the unforgiveness drove him/her to a loss of mental stability. Unless a deliverance from that tormenting lunatic spirit were to take place, the person will remain in a mental state where reason and communication and peace are beyond reach. Yes, it’s that serious. How far are you willing to let the devil enslave you to unforgiveness? Are you willing to never recover, or do you want to be free?
I wish I could tell you that you have every right to carry that grudge if it makes you feel better, but I’d be doing you a terrible disservice. You can choose to keep carrying that thing, but not without terrible consequences to yourself. You’re not hurting the other party–you’re letting poison sludge through your own body, soul, and spirit. You tie the hands of God from righting the wrong when you take this liberty to violate what His Word says about forgiveness, justice, revenge, and mercy. A grudge doesn’t create a separation from you and the person who hurt you, as it seems it should–but it actually cements the connection. Would you like to handcuff yourself to someone you have something against and have him/her everywhere you go, 24/7? When you refuse to forgive, that’s exactly what you do in the spirit realm. That person or offense then follows you day and night, giving you no rest, giving the devil legal access to attack you in your body and mind. Sickness, depression, anxiety, fear…they love to sneak through the cracks in your armor left by unforgiveness. The only way to truly sever a tie that’s capable of keeping you sick is to forgive and release. Don’t be mad because I’ve told you the truth–the good news is, you can set yourself free when you forgive.
If someone has done a terrible injustice to you, let God be the one responsible for dispensing the justice. No one wants to be sick or to suffer or to create an iniquity that can go from generation to generation in one’s family! The devil tells you that you cannot forgive that person, that employer, that race of people, that school, that political group, that church. He will even tell you that you are betraying yourself, your family, or your cause if you forgive and release. But I tell you, you can. And you must, if you want to walk in the full blessing of God! If laws have been broken and moral laws violated, judges and courts may still dispense justice and in many cases, absolutely should. But don’t let the probability of or the right/wrong outcome of those things determine whether you forgive and forgive quickly. Do it now, before a root of bitterness springs up and starts an avalanche of emotional and physical illnesses in your life.
Believe me when I tell you, people don’t really care if you choose to hurt yourself by holding that grudge. The other party may never know or never care that you feel this way. It won’t make anyone treat you better or feel sorry for you or grant you favor…or make you look like the one who was right. You sickening yourself through unforgiveness won’t compel the other person to make things right with you. If you choose to hold onto this offense, you do so to your own detriment. Please…let it go and be healed! You can do this. Pray with me:
Father, _____ hurt me. You saw it happen and you have watched from Day One as it all unfolded. I am still harboring anger, hurt, resentment, and yes, unforgiveness. It’s so hard to just let this go! My flesh says I can’t! But…I don’t want any barriers between You and me. I don’t want my refusal to cooperate with Your Word to be a cause for sickness and disease, or to cause a chain-reaction unfortunate events in my life and in my family. I don’t want to pass on a begrudging, vengeful spirit to my children and grandchildren as they watch me stew and rant and implode. I don’t want the people around me to grow weary with my constant re-hashing how I’ve been done wrong and how I can get even. I repent before You, even though the devil has told me I shouldn’t have to be sorry. I’m sorry that I let my feelings come before my relationship with You. Jesus didn’t just die for me, He died for the people who hurt and crucified Him; and He died for the people who have hurt me, too.
I declare with my mouth that I forgive ____ and I release him/her/them from this day forward of this injustice against me. Every time what was done to me comes back to my mind, I will say “I forgive” over and over again. Your Word mentioned a 70 x 7 of offenses; and while that person may not be doing evil things to me 490 times in a day, my thoughts may be rehearsing those past wrongs that many times or more in a day. So I will address every instant replay with “I forgive” because I AM forgiving! I even forgive those who are now in the grave. I even forgive myself of things I’ve done, should not have done, said, whatever. I may have done a great job of hiding my feelings about this thing, but You knew my heart all along. Forgive what I held in contempt privately even though I never told a soul! Forgiveness isn’t saying that I deny any wrongdoing on the other person’s part. It doesn’t mean that his/her/their actions will not bear consequences of sowing and reaping. It doesn’t even mean that I have to welcome future opportunities for abuse. It does, however, mean that I no longer wish harm on that person! It does mean that I stop obsessing about what I can’t rewind and change. It does mean that I love You more than I love to feel as if I’m in control. It means that I am willing to do as Jesus taught: I will love those who have made themselves my enemy. I will bless those who have cursed me. I will do good to those who hate me, and I will pray for those who persecute, bully, and accuse me falsely. You would never ask me to do what Your grace could not enable me to do, so in faith I say that I am a FORGIVER. In giving my best effort to do these things, I release Your favor over my life and I loose Your hands to be my vindicator, my healer, and my protector! When I’m tempted to take on this spirit of heaviness and unforgiveness again, I’ll think of myself kind of like a hermit crab–offense may have once been my identity; but I’ve grown since then and I can’t squeeze back into that old, small, suffocating, incarcerating shell!
And now, Father, I lay my physical and mental health conditions before You and ask that Your healing go to work in those things which unforgiveness may have caused or exasperated. Send Your blessing over my life and mend the brokenness. You can restore all things which may have lain in ruins. I look to You to provide for my needs, to right the wrongs, to bring joy and health back to me, and You may even enable me to laugh at the very thing which tried to take me out! I love You, I trust You, and I ask Your will to be done in my life. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart please You, my Rock and Redeemer! Thank You for revealing the problem and helping me to get on the path to WHOLENESS!