Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.—Ephesians 4:31–32
Without even knowing you, I know this about you: You have been hurt in life. You have had people say unkind things to you. You have had people do mean things to you. There have been incidents in your life where you’ve been treated unfairly.
Some want to rationalize that there is no need to forgive those who have wronged them because they don’t deserve forgiveness. But they have to ask themselves whether they deserve forgiveness themselves. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”
Here is what the Bible has to say about forgiving those who have wronged us: “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:30–32).
God’s command to forgive should be enough. But let me offer another reason why we should learn to be forgiving: it might actually extend our lives. Recent studies have suggested that those who do not forgive are more likely to experience high blood pressure, bouts of depression, and problems with anger, stress, and anxiety. Dr. Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, a researcher at Hope College, said “If you are willing to exert the effort it takes to be forgiving, there are benefits both emotionally and physically.”
People who have been studying the medical benefits of forgiveness have come to the same conclusion that the Bible came to long ago: it is a good thing to forgive others.