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Forgiveness: The Power to Heal

Some years ago during a visit to Yellowstone Park, one writer observed that the only animal that the grizzly bear would share his food with was a skunk. It wasn't that the grizzly wanted to share his food but rather that he chose to. With one swing of his powerful paw he could have crushed the skunk. So why did he allow the skunk to eat with him? 

Because he knew the high cost of getting even. Smart bear! 

Undoubtedly he learned the hard way. Strange that we humans often aren't as  smart. Sometimes we carry grudges for years, often repressing them from conscious memory, and end up hurting ourselves more than the ones we would like to get even with. We fail to see how damaging an unforgiving spirit is.

In his book, None of These Diseases, Dr. S.I. McMillen says, "Medical science recognizes that emotions such as fear, sorrow, envy, resentment and hatred are responsible for the majority of our sicknesses. Estimates vary from 60 percent to nearly 100 percent."

I read one report of an astonished patient who was told by his doctor: "If you don't cut out your resentments, I may have to cut out a part of your intestinal tract." 

Fortunately, the man took the doctor's advice. He had been nursing a bitter grudge against a former business partner. He went to see this man, resolved their differences, and forgave him. When he returned to the doctor, his physical condition had cleared up.

That advice isn't new of course. The greatest physician who ever lived, Jesus Christ, pointed out 2,000 years ago the importance of forgiveness. When he encouraged us to "forgive seventy times seven," he was thinking of our physical as much as our spiritual well-being. As Dr. McMillen says, he knew that a forgiving spirit would save us from "ulcerative colitis, toxic goiters, high blood pressure, and scores of other diseases." including ulcers, asthma, arthritis, neuro-dermatitis, and heart ailments—all possible effects of resentment. 

The Bible's advice is therefore just as relevant today as it was when written 2,000 years ago: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."1

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'"2

"Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you God that you have forgiven me for all my sins, failings and shortcomings. Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."

P.S. "Failure to forgive is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die!"

1. Ephesians 4:32.
2. Matthew 18:21-22, (NIV).

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