When We Don’t Forgive

Welcome to day 19 of STAND OUT: 7 traits of a counter cultural life. You can find every post listed here.

What happens when we don't forgive? Understanding the real consequences of unforgiveness in the life of a believer.

So, yeah, the next three days I am already dreading … because if I have learned anything from teaching and writing all these years it’s this: the topic I’m covering is like a flashing invitation for the enemy to start his attacks right there. The next topic on our list of seven is forgiveness. And, if you’ll allow me to be super honest with you — I often struggle hard in this area. I’m not like Raymond in The Rainman with my “Serious Injury List,” but there are times when forgiveness isn’t my first inclination {or forty-first, truthfully}.

Our culture keeps track of every wrong doing. We inventory every slight, every hurt, and every disappointment. Family disagreements lead to estrangements that last through generations. And sadly, the family of God is no better. Our feelings get hurt and rather than working through the issues to sustain the relationship, we walk away … and, more often than not, we talk away—all too happy to share how we’ve been wronged.

The news is full of violent and heartbreaking situations, far too many of which stem from unforgiveness. Even little children are quick to announce, “You’re not my friend!” when a conflict comes on the playground or classroom.

What happens when we don’t forgive?

As I was researching to write this post, I did a quick Google search on “consequences of unforgiveness.” There were over 59,000 results. The top result was an article from June of this year titled The Deadly Consequences of Unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease. According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way.

“Refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way.” I’m guessing you have seen this manifested in the lives of people you know and maybe even in your own. Lack of forgiveness can lead to very serious physical issues but also mental and emotional issues such as anxiety, bitterness, and depression.

Refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way. #StandOut Click To Tweet

Lack of forgiveness can lead to physical, emotional, and mental impacts. But the most serious are the spiritual consequences we endure when we fail to forgive.

But without a doubt, the gravest consequences of unforgiveness are spiritual.  At The Christian Post, Charles Stanley wrote,

Because unforgiveness is a violation of God’s law, it also causes spiritual turmoil that hinders a believer’s growth. Prayer is stifled because of harbored sin that should be confessed. And worship is dry and hypocritical because it’s difficult to effectively honor the Lord while trying to justify or hide a wrong attitude. What’s more, a resentful person’s witness is damaged, as others are prevented from seeing God’s glory shining through him.

Obviously, this is a topic worth serious discussion … and one we desperately need to understand and apply if we intend to grow in our relationship with the Lord and with others.  Tomorrow we’re going to look at what Scripture says about forgiveness and then Wednesday we’ll dig into the practicality of applying those truths to our daily lives.

These won’t be easy conversations … but they will be valuable and necessary. I don’t have all the answers but I have seen how forgiveness has given me freedom and contentment in ways I never imagined possible.  Maybe you long for that also?


Teri Lynne

How have you struggled to forgive someone in your life?

Read the Psalms this summer with Scripture Dig!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge