The Templeton Foundation recently funded a major nationwide study on people’s attitudes toward forgiveness. It was co-sponsored by the University of Michigan and the National Institute for Mental Health, and it was fascinating. The study found that 75% of Americans are “very confident” that they have been forgiven by God for their past offenses. 75%! This includes people who are not regular church attenders.
However, only about half of the people surveyed claimed that they had or would forgive others who had hurt them. What was interesting to me is that while we are sure that God has been entirely gracious to us, we have a hard time being gracious and merciful to others. No doubt it is hard to forgive people who have hurt us, and yet it is so important.
In that same study researchers also found that there is a significant link between forgiveness and better health. The more prone a person is to grant forgiveness, the less likely he or she will suffer from any stress-related illnesses. In addition to our physical health, forgiveness is directly tied to our spiritual health.
In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul admonished: Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Let us pray: Merciful God, We have heard the Good News that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. While sometimes we accept this forgiveness, other times we do not. Sometimes we are able to forgive others, but sometimes we hold fast to old grudges, hurts and fears. Sometimes we feel unable to forgive – even ourselves.
Have mercy on us, O God. Help us today to let go... Help us to accept that we are accepted; and to forgive as we are forgiven; that new beginnings may be ours through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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