Forgiveness and Health

posted Jul 18, 2013, 12:07 PM by Phil Clark   [ updated Aug 27, 2015, 12:16 PM by Sonrise Lightmyway ]
1 Corinthians 11:27-32 says,    "So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.  For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.  That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. "

We know from the context of this verse that the Corinthians were making the Lord's table into a public drunk fest event.  Paul was concerned.   I don't know of any churches today that approach the Lord's table that way.  Yet the warning goes deeper than just the outward expression of communion.  We have to examine ourselves every time we come to the Lord's table.    What does it mean to take communion in a WORTHY manner?  I believe it means to immerse yourself at that moment in the reality of God's forgiveness and to let that forgiveness change you, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.  Taking communion in an "unworthy manner" would be to trivialize that forgiveness and to not let that forgiveness seep deep into every part of who you are.  Forgiveness..... the intangible, historical, spiritual significance of the cross and the tangible, physical bread and cup that we taste remind us that forgiveness is not just a spiritual exercise, but an exercise that has far reaching physical ramifications.  What goes on at the cross affects our lives, our bodies and our relationships with one another.

Who have you not forgiven that you carry bitterness and anger towards? Have you been this way for so long that you don't even see it in yourself anymore?   Conversely, who are you reluctant to ask for forgiveness from for some wrong you did to them, maybe years ago that you still carry a sense of guilt and shame over after all these years? For some of us, we know exactly who that is.  For others of us, we will need the Spirit's help in discovering who that person is.   A family member, a co-worker or neighbor?  How are those choices to not forgive or to not ask for forgiveness possibly affecting your physical, emotional or mental health today?  Tomorrow?  A year from now?  What is that poison of bitterness, anger, guilt, shame inside you doing to your long term health?  Are you willing to risk your health by choosing disobedience?  Are those poisons in you creating a insatiable craving for something you know is shortening your life?   Are they fueling a compulsion that is destroying your body?  Prayerfully, thoughtfully ask the Holy Spirit to point out to you specific people who you need to forgive or who you need go quickly to and ask forgiveness from.  What if so many of the disorders we experience in life were caused by the poison we bottle up inside us?  Could many of our health problems be overcome simply by having more spiritual discernment when we come to the Lord's table?  I think so. 

James 5:14-15 seems to hint also at the relationship between health and forgiveness.  It says, "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. "  Don't miss the last part about sin and forgiveness at the end of the verse. 
And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. "    Are you sick?  Ask for help.  Maybe it's unconfessed sin.  Maybe you are carrying the full weight of guilt and shame and it is rotting you from the inside out, robbing you of joy and peace.   Maybe you aren't willing to let go of your bitterness and anger towards someone.  Maybe bitterness and anger are so familiar to you that you can't even imagine life without them.  They are like unsavory characters always following you around.  You despise them but they are comfortably familiar.  Often, our compulsion to self-medicate comes from a lack of forgiveness.    It may take the help of an older, wiser follower of Christ, perhaps an elder, to help you discern who you are holding a grudge against and who you need to forgive.   When we are obedient in this respect, we experience freedom from bondage.   Confessing our sin is a way to restore our spiritual vitality and our health.