«Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
Research on forgiveness has increased significantly during the last years, proving that it is a powerful therapeutic element which has the ability to relieve a great amount of symptoms.
A study conducted by the psychologist Mark Rye, from the University of Dayton, examined that people who were willing to forgive their ex-spouse after the divorce displayed higher levels of well-being and had less anger and depression than those who were less willing to forgive. Another study of the same researcher evaluated the efficiency of a psychotherapeutic intervention based on forgiveness in a group of divorcees and compared it to another group who had not received the psychotherapy. The participants of the first group not only improved their ability to forgive their ex-spouses, but they also showed improvements in their mental health by especially diminishing the symptoms of depression.
In another study, Gayle Reed and Robert Enright, psychologists at University of Wisconsin, discovered that forgiveness therapy decreases the levels of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, -and improves self-esteem in women and victims of domestic violence.
Similarly, Barbara Elliot, professor at the Medical School of University of Minnesota, assures that forgiveness has a huge impact on public health due to the positive effects observed on patients with chronic diseases.
In their article «The Neuropsychological Correlates of Forgiveness,» the researchers Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili, Stephanie Newberg and Verushka deMarici have pointed out that the effects of forgiveness can improve physical health through a decrease of the hormonal levels of stress and an improvement of sleep patterns. Thus, they conclude that forgiveness and physical well-being go hand in hand, and it is difficult to be successful in one without considering the other.
These studies are becoming more popular and they highlight that the benefits of forgiveness extend to physical, mental, social and spiritual health. However, there are still great benefits. Today’s Bible verse points out that the one who forgives will be forgiven. That is, if we forgive the insults of our neighbors, we will also be forgiven by God (Matt. 6:14). Is it not a magnificent benefit? Jesus has already said it, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7).
Let us try to practice forgiveness in any chance we get. Let us try and take advantage, with God’s help, of every one of its benefits.