What are the benefits of forgiveness?
Receiving forgiveness is a lot easier than giving it, so what are some of the benefits of forgiveness that can motivate me to forgive, especially in those ‘hard to forgive’ situations? The answer, once again, can be found in God’s Word.
Benefit 1: God’s Forgiveness
Forgiveness from God for our sins is freely given, but to receive it we must also freely give it. In other words, receiving God’s forgiveness is dependant on how willing we are to forgive others! “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) So, if you are willing to forgive, then you can be confident in God’s forgiveness for all your sins.
Benefit 2: Peace
“Forgiveness is mainly for your benefit, not for the benefit of the person you are forgiving. As long as you are feeling like a victim, you are carrying a heavy burden. Forgiveness allows you to put the burden down. And simply walk away from it. Free.” (https://getupministry.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/10-reasons-why-forgiveness-is-so-important/) Often we feel overwhelmed by our sins, but God wants to give us peace (release us from this unnecessary burden) by forgiveness (Psalm 65:3). This freedom and peace only come, though, if forgiveness is genuine and Christ-like. Henry Ward Beecher says, “I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note — torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” So, if you are willing to genuinely forgive as God forgives, then you will find peace and a lighter burden.
Benefit 3: Love
In Luke 7:47, it says “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” This story ties forgiveness to love. Those who love are willing to forgive. Those are forgiven, will desire to demonstrate God’s love. There is a close tie. I would even say, forgiving someone is a demonstration of love itself. Also, the act of forgiveness gets rid of anger and bitterness, replacing them with love. Giving forgiveness comforts the one who has done wrong (2 Corinthians 2:7), causing them to love you more. So, those who are willing to forgive will then experience love in a greater way.
Benefit 4: Health
If you are not willing to forgive others, the result is bitterness, anger, which brings health problems. Therefore, the converse must be true if you are willing to forgive. Freedom from bitterness and anger result in better health! So, those who are forgiving will benefit from good health due to all the things they are avoiding.
Benefit 5: Sanctification
Do you want to grow as a Christian? Our faith grows best when we live in forgiveness (both received and given). Any time we hold back on either giving or receiving, it stunts our growth. Therefore, a great benefit of forgiving is not just our spiritual health, but also our spiritual growth. To become like Jesus, which is what we are called to, we must be just as quick to forgive as He is/was. 1 John 1:9 reminds us that forgiveness is what purifies us from all that is unrighteous according to God’s standards, which is what is needed for sanctification (being made more like Christ, holy, set apart for God). We even learn to respect God more when we live in His forgiveness, and pass it on to others (Psalm 130:3-4). So, the forgiving person finds greater spiritual growth and a better relationship with God.
Benefit 6: Restored Relationships
Forgiveness heals not only the body, but relationships with others. Proverbs 17:9 reminds us that unforgiveness separates, but forgiveness heals. Not only does it heal, but I would say that the more we forgive, the stronger that relationship will get. Over time, trust is built and love is increased, bringing a tighter and stronger relationship. So, the forgiving person finds restored relationships with those they forgive, and even others who are affected by this act of forgiveness.
Benefit 7: Joy
Peace comes to those who forgive, bringing another wonderful character trait of God, joy. Freedom from all the negative emotions that come when we do not forgive brings that joy God promises to His children. Psalm 32:1-5 describes the wonderful attitude of joy and emotion of happiness that comes when we live in forgiveness. So, the forgiving person discovers great joy from the freedom found in forgiveness, and the combination of all the other benefits in their life.
So many benefits! So why not forgive? Even if it is hard, or seems like the other person doesn’t deserve it, the benefits far outweigh anything we can think up. Love like Jesus by forgiving like Jesus, and enjoy the benefits.