Unforgiveness will destroy your relationships, shatter your self-image, and hinder your ability to experience a vibrant walk with the Lord. Practicing unforgiveness is serious and will cause a whole slew of unwanted troubles in your life. Reconcile what can be reconciled, restore what can be restored, create healthy and loving boundaries where needed, and always choose to practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is not forgetting, it is not being a doormat, and it is not condoning how you were wronged. Forgiveness is the way in which you are truly set free from the chains of vengeance, victim-hood, and bitterness. Forgiveness is letting go of the hurt and not letting it control your life.
Reasons We Don’t Forgive
1. The betrayal was too great.
The lie sounds like this: That’s right, what they did was unthinkable and you could not possibly forgive such treachery. You are in pain, you are embarrassed, and frankly, what they did was downright unforgivable.
The truth says, “Truly, all sins and blasphemes will be forgiven.” Mark 3:28
2. They aren’t deserving.
The lie sounds like this: They hurt you, and they could not possibly be worthy of the kindness of forgiveness. They are undeserving of such mercy. They aren’t sorry, they haven’t apologized, they are evil, and they care not one bit how they have hurt you.
The truth says, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
3. We don’t want to be hurt again or look like fools.
The lie sounds like this: You look like a fool. Self-protect and save face! You must look tough and guarantee that never happens again. Talk bad about the one who hurt you. Make them look like the loser so you can look like the unscathed winner.
The truth says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4:10
4. We see ourselves as a victim and the other as the perpetrator.
The lie sounds like this: You are an innocent victim, they are a guilty culprit. Lick your wounds, enjoy your pity party, and be sure to tell anyone willing to listen how you have been hurt. Tell them how terrible this person is and how blameless you are.
The truth says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
There are plenty other seemingly good reasons not to forgive. Living a Christian life means that forgiveness is always on the table with God’s help.
A Biblical Perspective
I love God’s word because it always speaks straight to our problems and remains relevant through all ages and to all generations. If we ever think God doesn’t get it, just open His word and you will find wisdom and guidance at every turn. As we look to expose unforgiveness, I want to highlight what God’s word offers about forgiveness because the world’s way is not the only way.
1. Being forgiven by God is connected to our willingness to forgive others (See Matthew 6:14-15)
2. Staying angry lets the devil run amok (See Ephesians 4:26-27)
3. Pray for your enemies (See Matthew 5:44)
4. Vengeance is the Lord’s (See Romans 12:19)
5. Put away the worldly ways (See Ephesians 4:31-32)
6. Since God forgives, we should forgive (See Psalm 86:5)
The Results: What happens when we don’t forgive
Fostering unforgiveness will make us hard-hearted. It will hinder us from experiencing freedom and forgiveness from our own sins and mistakes. When choosing the way of unforgiveness, our whole life begins to revolve around the incident of hurt and betrayal. With hardened hearts, we become ripe ground for bitterness, resentment, and anger. These will overwhelm you and take away your joy and the abundant life that God has for you. With unforgiveness comes the loss of mercy, compassion, and love. We turn inward, fostering self-centeredness, pushing people away, and forgetting to take care of others. Unforgiveness is a poison to your spirit, your relationships, and your life.
Ready to dump the toxin? Be a follower… of Christ!
As Christ was unjustly being nailed to the cross, He asked that God would pardon His accusers and those who wronged Him. What love and what forgiveness He modeled for us! However severe the wrong, and although the relationship may not be restored, we can certainly still choose to forgive and let go. The reality is that we cannot forgive apart from God. It is His Spirit that will empower you and embolden you to do the radical, loving, and life-giving act of forgiveness. It will take time, it will be a journey, but remember, with Christ, ALL things are possible. Forgiveness will be well worth it in the end. God can set your heart free from hurt, anger, and resentment when you forgive.
Looking to the biblical perspective, here are some initial steps to take as you seek to forgive.
1. Make the decision to forgive
2. Follow God’s guidance (not the world’s way or what your deceitful feelings tell you)
3. Find empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you (they are just a broken, sinful person in need of Christ)
4. Pray for the one who hurt you
5. Find meaning, purpose, and growth through what you’ve experienced
Forgiveness may not be popular nor even our natural inclination when we've been wronged, but you owe it to yourself to forgive, to truly forgive, and to live a life free of the wounds and pains.
Author: Pamela Palmer