Devotional Readings

Changing Your Heart Changes Your Head

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21, 22, NKJV.

There is a reason Jesus told Peter to forgive 490 times. The human brain is a complex organism, with many conscious and unconscious connections. Forgiveness, however, is the catalyst that gets rid of the negative connections. Here’s an example:

Rebecca had been married to a man who had a dark side–he dabbled in pornography and on his trips to other cities he solicited prostitutes. In time, he left Rebecca for another woman. Rebecca felt humiliated and angry. Just the sight of her ex-husband coming to see their children made the adrenalin rush through her system, causing her heart and breathing rates to increase. Anything that reminded her of him, such as his car or even his parents, caused the same reaction.

Why was this happening? Neurons that memorized her ex-husband were constantly associating with the noradrenalin neurons, so anything that reminded her of her ex-husband caused her to subconsciously release noradrenalin. As long as there is this association, forgiveness is impossible. That’s why Rebecca’s first prayers were vengeful: “God, give my ex-husband what he deserves.”

Then she realized this unforgiving spirit was making her feel worse. She could not break the connection between the neurons that memorized her ex-husband and the noradrenaline neurons. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Righteousness by works does not work at all!” (Galatians 2:21). And in Isaiah 64:6 we are reminded that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

So Rebecca changed her prayer and asked God to give her a forgiving heart. Immediately she experienced a “heart transplant.” The connection of her neurons that memorized her ex-husband was switched to the endorphin neurons that gave her peace of mind. Changing her heart changed her head! She did not forget what her husband had done to her, but the bitter feelings were gone. And with that, the process of forgiveness was completed.

C. S. Lewis put it this way: “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

If our loving God is willing to forgive our iniquities in order to bring healing, shouldn’t we as His children do likewise to the ones who have wronged us?

–Kathleen H. Liwidjaja-Kuntaraf

from Fit Forever: One-A-Day Devotionals for Body, Mind, and Spirit
Kay Kuzma (editor) | Review & Herald (2005)
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