Matthew 18:35 (GW)
That is what my Father in heaven will do to you if each of you does not sincerely forgive other believers.
Forgiveness is a gift from God. But forgiving others is a command from God. We like the gift, we don’t like the command. As followers of Jesus our lives should look different from the lives of those around us. One of those noticeable differences should be our giving of forgiveness. Jesus is pretty clear that the consequences of not forgiving are unpleasant. Unforgiving others can lead to our own loss of forgiveness (See Matthew 18:21-35). But refusing to forgive someone has other negative results in our lives. Here are few:
1) Not forgiving someone can lead to bitterness. Paul warns the church at Ephesus to get rid of bitterness (Ephesians 4:31). The writer to the Hebrews warns that bitterness causes trouble and will corrupt you (Hebrews 12:15)
2) Not forgiving someone can cause health problems. When you harbor anger at someone, you lose sleep. You lie awake at night recalling the evil done to you. Loss of sleep can cause many health problems including: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
3) Living in anger causes poor judgment (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
4) Not forgiving others causes problems with our other relationships. We keep bringing up the past hurts and others see us as negative people. People don’t want to be around people who are negative.
5) Not forgiving people robs us of our joy. Holding on to past hurts prevents us from enjoying what God gives us now.
6) When we refuse to forgive others, we make ourselves out to be wiser than God. Our refusal to forgive is in effect telling God, “I know better than you. Jesus made a mistake by dying for this person!” This last one is the reason why Jesus commands forgiveness. When we refuse to forgive, we break the first commandment “You shall have no other gods before Me.” When we refuse to forgive, we in fact make ourselves out to be a god. We become our own idol.
Based on these six negative results of refusing to forgive others, wouldn’t you agree that forgiving others is desirable? If you need help forgiving, let me know and I will send a pdf. Bible study on forgiveness.
P.S. What would you add to the list of negative results from refusing to forgive?