The Christian knows that they deserve nothing from God but hell. And we thank Jesus for taking our hell upon himself. Then, knowing the immense crimes that God has forgiven us, and knowing that although we deserve his worst he has given us his best, we cannot help but extend the same to others.
As we forgive our debtors.—Matthew 6:12 (NASB 1977)
In an article on the connection between forgiveness and health, Dr. Karen Swartz from The Johns Hopkins Hospital states, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed.” The article goes on to detail the related effects:
Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response [which] increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.
While unforgiveness is bad for our health, it is catastrophic for our eternal souls.
The fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer is, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).
Jesus is emphatic about the eternal consequences of not forgiving others.
Note that this is the only petition that Jesus reinforces with a comment. And note how emphatic his comment is. This shows the prayer’s difficulty, and the eternal consequences, of not doing what we say we do in this petition:
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.—(Matthew 6:14-15)