Nelson Mandela took a bit of proverbial wisdom and made it his: "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies." Others had said it before him, but Mandela lived it out in a public way, showing nothing but forgiveness toward those who kept him in prison. When inaugurated as President of South Africa, Mandela even invited one of the prison guards to the ceremony.

Studies have shown resentment to be harmful to our health, while forgiveness has the opposite effect. A 2004 Harvard study found five principal benefits to forgiveness:

  • Reduced stress
  • Better heart health
  • Stronger relationships
  • Reduced pain
  • Greater happiness

Jesus offered more powerful reasons. One is that we forgive others because God forgives us. He told the story of a man who was forgiven an impossible debt who then had another man thrown into prison because of a much smaller debt. God is willing to forgive every one of our sins; how can we then turn around and be unforgiving toward others?

Jesus said:

Forgive. Move on with your life, focusing on the future and not the past.
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15).

Forgiveness is good for you. Resentment is harmful. The choice should be easy, yet we often find ourselves keeping a record of the wrongs done against us.

Let me encourage you to let them go. Forgive. Move on with your life, focusing on the future and not the past. Find the peace that God can bring to your life when you're willing to forgive.

To talk more about forgiveness, write to me at or join the discussion at

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