“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and expecting the other person to die.”-Marianne Williamson
I’ve heard this quote several times in my life. It was until recently I understood how true this statement really is.
Someone hurt me. When it happened, I decided to brush off the feelings and the wrongs that they committed. I did everything I could to ignore the pain they caused, calling this forgiveness.
On the outside, things seemed okay. I behaved as if this person was forgiven.
Yet inside I was seething.
Now what I am about to type is hard to admit, but if it helps someone, I have to do it:
I hated this person. I wanted them to suffer for the pain that they caused.
It’s ugly. So ugly.
Although I was smiling and friendly on the outside, I held these ugly feelings inside, rotting internally.
I was poisoning my soul and trapping myself in sin.
The best thing about God is he seeks to set us free. He will use any means necessary to free us. Sometimes this manifests in physical symptoms:
What you think is stress might be a forgiveness issue.
My unforgiveness was also affecting my walk with God. I believed He didn’t love me, couldn’t love me.
I struggled to believe His words.
I equated this person’s treatment of me as to how God viewed me.
I held all of this in for so long.
Until I broke.
In my brokenness, God showed me where I harbored unforgiveness. He showed me an image of how I viewed this person, and it was not pleasant. It was hard to see that I had that type of anger inside of me.
I was so ashamed.
Yet in admitting all of this allowed God to address my wounds and pain and set me free.
After laying everything on the table, I repented and worked on forgiving the person. Yet, I still felt pain, and I still had trouble forgiving what they did. I said that I forgave them, but didn’t feel it. Discouraged by my feelings, I turned to the Word for guidance. God led me here:
“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
I realized that forgiveness isn’t a one and done sort of thing. Nor is it a feeling. Forgiveness is a daily choice to offer up that offense to God and not hold it against that person.
Forgiveness is saying that any wrong done to you is not bigger than Jesus or the cross.
Consequences of Unforgiveness
So what happens to us if we don’t forgive another for their offense?
There are many consequences.
God can’t forgive us:
“Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt.35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:32-35
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
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions. Mark 11:25-26
It causes bitterness in our hearts:
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up and causes you trouble, or many of you will become defiled. Hebrews 12:15
It destroys friendships:
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
It opens the door to the enemy to wreak havoc on your life:
Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11
How to deal with unforgiveness:
So you’ve recognized that you are struggling with unforgiveness. Hurray! That is the most significant step in setting you free, realizing that it’s there. Here’s what to do next:
Confess and repent: Admit it to God. Let Him know everything you’re feeling. Really be honest with Him, He knows it all anyway.
Seek God in reconciliation with that person: “So if you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.” Matthew 5:23-24
If you have wronged another or think they may have wronged you, go to them and make things right. This should be done with wisdom and guidance from God.
Unforgiveness is a tool from the enemy to destroy every good thing that God has for us. Don’t let it poison your life. Instead, give the Devil a black eye and forgive those who hurt you.
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