The Consequences of Unforgiveness

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’  In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:32-35)
 
When someone causes you hardship and pain, our natural tendency is to want to strike back in order to “even the score.” Among other things, we may gossip to others about them, we may return insult for insult, and we may cease our relationship with them. We can indulge our sinful nature by nursing a grudge. However, the one we’re hurting most is usually ourselves. 
 
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Katherine Ponder

 
God knows just how destructive the root of bitterness can be to our soul. To guard us against going down that path, He sternly warns us of the divine consequences He will impose on us if we do not forgive others who wrong us, “because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)
 
Christians live with an inner tension between the pull of the old sinful nature and the leading by the Spirit who indwells us. That’s why our path to holiness (sanctification) has many pitfalls along the way. That’s the reason the Scripture calls us to, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
 
If you’re struggling with the idea of forgiving a brother or sister in Christ who has wronged you, the Bible says to, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
 
And if you’re in the faith, the Lord may discipline you if you refuse to forgive your repentant brother. “God disciplines us for our own good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10-11)
 
Forgiveness is not an option; it is God’s will for you and for me!
 
By Jim Connell

Jim and his wife, Becky, moved from Indiana to Lexington to establish the Lexington Rescue Mission. They have two married children, Laura and Brian.

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