I read an article recently referring to a study reported in Social Psychology and Personality Science that determined the act of forgiving makes us lighter both emotionally and physically?
The study involved two groups. One group was to remember a time they forgave someone and the second group was asked to remember a time they couldn’t forgive.
Through their mind’s eye, the group that was able to forgive perceived the slope of a nearby hill to be less steep than the second group that was unable to forgive. The researchers said it was the equivalent of a person with a heavy backpack finding it more difficult to climb a hill than a person without.
Ryan Fehr, assistant professor of management at the University of Washington, also measured the vertical jumps of each participant in the study.
He found that the group who forgave, on average, jumped higher than those who were unable to forgive.
Fehr concluded that the act of forgiveness unburdened one’s mind and brought a lightness to their physical being and did in fact “lift the weight of their shoulders.”
Jesus spoke of something very similar:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29 ( NKJV)
In other words, Jesus came to remove the burden of sin that was hanging around our necks like a yoke that one places on oxen before it plows the fields.
This is grace in its purest form. Christ forgiving us and removing the heavy yoke of sin from around our neck and placing His yoke of grace, mercy and forgiveness upon us.
But it is not that Christ’s yoke was completely without weight. Though light there is still some load to it.
Jesus said to forgive those who had offended us and if we were unable to do that, God couldn’t forgive or remove our transgressions (Matthew 6:15).
Unforgiveness is an emotional weight that actually affects our physical body.
Extending forgiveness to someone who has offended or hurt us lightens our load and releases us from its weight.