«Now however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement» (2 Corinthians 27, NLT).
Fred grew up with his dear friend Sam. To Fred, Sam was like the brother he never had. This intimate and true friendship continued until they went to college. However, when Sam met a young colleague and fell in love with her, he stopped paying attention to his best friend. It turned out that she did not approve of their friendship. The situation got so bad that, when Sam and his fiancée got married, they did not invite Fred; they did not even let him know about the wedding. Fred couldn’t understand the situation. In his mind and in his heart, he harboured enmity, hate, and disgust toward his old friend for years, even after he got married. Years later, he described his situation, saying: “Holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the person to die from poisoning.
His resentment toward Sam and his wife was so intense that, one day, his wife told him:
«Fred, I love you, but I don’t like the changes you are experiencing because of your
Hatred for Sam,”
This produced such a strong reaction in him that he decided to forgive them. He let go of the resentment, contempt, and disgust. Eventually, he chose to forgive his friend. This experience was so beneficial to him that he channeled it in his degree in psychology with a specialty in the study of forgiveness. Today, he is Dr. Fred Luskin, director of the Forgiveness Program at Stanford University. Besides his numerous research studies on this topic, Luskin has helped many people forgive and become reconciled with others like, for example, his mediation between victims and terrorists in Northern Ireland.
Today’s verse invites us not only to forgive but also to comfort the offender. This forgiving spirit is an essential part of the gospel of Jesus Christ and there are reasons why. For example, today, it is known that when we do not forgive, we do not let go of anger; our stress level increases and cognitive activity decreases. It is also well known that not forgiving produces changes in hormonal activity (cortisol imbalance), the parasympathetic nervous system and blood composition. Granting forgiveness improves our health and well-being and lowers blood pressure.
Place yourself today in God’s hands so He can give you the grace to forgive within and outside your family. You will receive countless blessings and, best of all, God will also forgive you just as Jesus promises (Matt. 6:14).