We’ve all been in a position where we’ve had to forgive someone. And if we don’t, that unforgiveness turns into bitterness which poisons our lives in so many ways.
But have you ever been the unforgiven offender? I have and it’s heartbreaking!
Your heart is sick; grieved that you hurt someone’s heart. You have repented, tried to restore the relationship; you have done everything possible to reconcile (Rom 12:18)
But they still refuse to forgive.
From my experience I learned that when we refuse to forgive, we are not only hurting ourselves, but also the offender if they are genuinely sorry for their offense. Both parties are losers. However, there’s still one more loser: God!
When we don’t forgive it’s a lose, lose, lose situation!
What does the unforgiving Christian lose?
● A good relationship with the apologetic offender. The relationship may even be severed.
● Peace and joy
Only misery surrounds a bitter person. Their unforgiving heart becomes harder with time, resulting in only more unhappiness. Unless resolved they could progress into destructive behaviors of drug or alcohol addiction.
Bitterness has been undeniably proven to negatively affect mental and physical health (Ps 31:10, 32:3-4).
● Good relationships with others
Unforgiveness hardens and closes our hearts to others. Negativity repels people.
● Intimacy with God
Since unforgiveness is a sin (Mat 18:23-35, Lk 17:3-4), it blocks our relationship with God, including all His blessings. It stunts our spiritual growth. The heavy weight of guilt from the Holy Spirit’s conviction removes our joy and peace. Unanswered prayer and ineffectiveness for God’s Kingdom ensue.
What does the repentant but unforgiven Christian lose?
● A good relationship with the offended. The relationship may even be severed.
● Peace and joy—a lot or a little
● Possibly sleep
As the repentant offender, you must be careful not to let the unforgiveness of others keep you under the burden of guilt. You are no longer guilty if you have asked God and the other person to forgive you and have sincerely tried to reconcile. Christ’s blood has cleansed you/exonerated you. Do not allow yourself thoughts like…
“If they won’t forgive me, maybe God won’t either.”
“I’m not worth forgiving.”
This mindset may even cause you to doubt your salvation, and affects the way you relate to others which then leads to loneliness.
Furthermore, it could lead to anger and bitterness against your unforgiver. See how everything could escalate?! But it doesn’t have to!
These are only potential losses!
Surely there is regret for what we have done. Surely there is loss of joy and peace. But we do not have to stay in that state of mind. We don’t have to let Satan steal our abundant life (Jn 10:10)!
And what about God? What does He lose?
● Glory and honor due His name
● Intimacy with His wayward unforgiving child, and possibly with the repentant offender.
All this havoc caused by the sin of unforgiveness!
It absolutely grieves the heart of God. It should grieve our hearts too!
Perhaps the biggest and saddest thing that is lost here is LOVE.
● The unforgiving person cannot truly give or receive love from God and others.
● The unpardoned offender loses love from the one they offended and possibly her sense of love from God and others.
● God loses receiving love from potentially both parties; His gift of love is rejected.
The good news is God can minimize the loss!
So my friend, if you are the one who’s been offended, forgive as God has forgiven you. As Paul said to the Corinthians…
Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. (2 Cor 2:7 NLT)
If you are the offender and are truly sorry for your sin, accept God’s forgiveness. Lean on Him for the power and wisdom to do everything possible to reconcile, but accept the fact that you cannot make anyone forgive you. It’s their choice. If you are right with God, you can still have peace in your heart even when others won’t allow you to be at peace with them. Then at least, the loss will be minimized on your end!
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(NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.