Have you been struggling with unforgiveness in your life recently?
Feeling angry, bitter, and resentful towards someone who hurt you?
You’ve probably heard the common saying that holding onto unforgiveness can make you sick.
But is there any truth to the claim that unforgiveness can specifically cause arthritis?
As a believer, you know that forgiving others is not optional.
The Bible commands us to forgive as Christ forgave us. But even if Scripture didn’t address it, forgiveness is vital for your own wellbeing.
Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.
It eats away at you on the inside, causing damage to your body, soul, and relationships.
What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?
What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?
The Bible makes it clear that forgiveness is not optional for Christians. Jesus taught that we should forgive others as God has forgiven us. According to Ephesians 4:32, we should “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Unforgiveness, on the other hand, is a prison that holds you captive. When you refuse to forgive others, you are allowing their actions to control you. As Joyce Meyer says, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Forgiving others sets you free and allows you to live in peace.
Jesus told a parable about unforgiveness in Matthew 18:21-35. A servant is forgiven an immense debt by his master but then refuses to forgive a small debt owed to him by another servant. His master becomes angry and hands him over to be tortured. Jesus warns us, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Forgiving others is difficult, but with God’s help it is possible. Ask God to give you the strength and grace to forgive those who have wronged you. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Even if you don’t feel like forgiving someone, you can choose to obey God’s command to forgive. Forgiveness may take time, but make the choice to forgive and God will help you work through your feelings.
Releasing others from the debt they owe you and forgiving them from your heart brings freedom and peace. Make the choice today to forgive and allow God to begin healing your heart.
The Link Between Unforgiveness and Health
Could unforgiveness really contribute to health issues like arthritis? Some studies suggest there may be a connection.
The Link Between Mind and Body
Our mental and physical health are closely tied. Negative emotions like unforgiveness can activate your body’s stress response, increasing inflammation in the joints and elsewhere. Over time, this can worsen symptoms of arthritis and joint pain.
Forgiving others, on the other hand, leads to decreased stress and anxiety. This helps create an environment in your body that’s less conducive to inflammation and pain. As Christian author Joyce Meyer puts it, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
What Scripture Says
The Bible also tells us that forgiveness is vital for our well-being. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says, “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Ephesians 4:32 likewise instructs us to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” When we forgive, we are set free from bitterness and open ourselves up to healing.
The Choice is Yours
While more research is still needed, the evidence we have so far suggests unforgiveness may play a role in conditions like arthritis. The good news is, forgiveness is a choice within your control. By forgiving others from your heart, you can experience freedom from resentment and potentially improve your physical health. What do you have to lose? Choose forgiveness and enjoy the peace that comes with it.
Research on the Effects of Unforgiveness
Research shows unforgiveness can have real physical effects. While arthritis is not directly caused by unforgiveness, chronic anger and resentment may exacerbate symptoms or pain perception.
Stress and Inflammation
When you hold onto unforgiveness, your body is in a constant state of stress. This causes inflammation in the body, and excess inflammation is linked to joint pain and damage. According to researchers, “Unforgiveness predicts higher levels of anger and hostility, cardiovascular reactivity, and blood pressure.” Chronic stress and inflammation are hard on your joints and musculoskeletal system.
Some studies found unforgiving people report higher levels of pain. Unforgiveness impacts your mind and emotions, which in turn influences how much pain you perceive. As Christian psychiatrist Dr. Scott Peck said, “Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” The bitterness caused by unforgiveness may make any existing pain feel worse. Resentment also occupies your mind, making pain harder to ignore.
Letting Go of Unforgiveness
The good news is unforgiveness is a choice, and you can choose to release resentment and bitterness. Forgiving others, even if they don’t deserve it or don’t ask for it, is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. As the Bible instructs us in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Replacing unforgiveness with compassion and mercy will lighten your mental and emotional load, ease stress and inflammation in your body, and allow you to perceive pain with more balance and grace.
Steps to Forgiveness According to the Bible
To forgive others as God forgives us, follow these biblical steps:
Recognize the hurt.
Face what was done to you. Acknowledge the pain it caused. Forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing the wrong or minimizing the harm. It means recognizing the full extent of the damage.
Release feelings of resentment.
Let go of anger, hatred, and thoughts of revenge. Harboring negative feelings only poisons you. Release them to God. Ask Him to heal your heart and fill you with peace.
Decide to forgive.
Forgiveness is a choice. Choose to cancel the debt. Say in your heart, “I forgive them.” Ask God to give you the strength and grace to follow through with your decision.
Refocus your mind.
Don’t dwell on the injustice. Redirect your thoughts to good and positive things. Pray for the person who hurt you. Wish them well. This helps overcome bitterness and resentment.
Reconcile if possible.
If safe and appropriate, seek to restore the relationship. Let the other person know you forgive them. Reconciliation depends on their response. Do your part, then leave the outcome to God.
Forgiveness sets you free. It releases you from the grip of negative emotions and unhealthy thoughts. Make the choice today to forgive others the way God has forgiven you. Let go of the past and walk in freedom and peace.
Letting Go of Bitterness and Embracing Forgiveness
Letting go of bitterness and embracing forgiveness is one of the healthiest things you can do—spiritually, emotionally and physically. Unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness negatively impact your wellbeing.
Unforgiveness breeds stress
Harboring unforgiveness causes unhealthy levels of stress. Your body responds to stress by releasing cortisol, the “stress hormone.” While cortisol in small doses is helpful, chronic stress and excess cortisol have damaging effects like:
- High blood pressure.
- Weight gain.
- Sleep problems.
- Digestive issues.
- Accelerated aging.
Unforgiveness strains relationships
Unforgiveness puts up walls between you and others, damaging relationships and causing isolation. Forgiving others allows you to repair relationships and reconnect, which leads to greater happiness and life satisfaction.
Unforgiveness hurts your health
Some research links unforgiveness to health issues like arthritis, back pain, ulcers and certain cancers. When you forgive, feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are released. These hormones relieve pain, boost immunity and promote healing.
The bottom line is unforgiveness does not lead to better health or happiness. Make the choice today to forgive others just as Christ has forgiven you. Let go of bitterness and embrace forgiveness. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you.
So there you have it. Don’t let unforgiveness plague your heart and spirit. As the Bible says, forgive as the Lord forgave you. Holding onto bitterness and resentment will only make you sick. Let go of past hurts and make the choice each day to walk in forgiveness. Your joints and your soul will thank you for it. Make the decision to live free from unforgiveness and experience healing in your body and renewal in your spirit. Forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. Let His peace rule in your heart.
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