Season: 10 Episode: 150
Listen to episode 146 in Spanish:
Sure, unforgiveness roots bitterness and allows the person who wronged you to live inside your head. But that’s not the full story. There is a more dangerous reality to withholding forgiveness from others and it’s likely no one has told you about it – not even your pastor. Shanda talks about the danger and consequences of refusing to forgive, choosing to hold grudges, and seeking revenge. If every Christian lived by this standard and understood this reality, the world would be a better place.
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and tackle them with biblical truth. I have another great episode for you today and one I’ve been stewing on for a while. This is going to be a bit deep and from an angle you might not have thought of or really heard about before.
Before we get into that, I want to remind you that I now have exclusive content for members of my Patreon account. See the link in the description to sign up and get my Revelation study for free, my monthly newsletter with apologetics tips and recipes, and other exclusive content that others will not see nor get.
Ok, so today I want to talk about something you might not have heard in regard to unforgiveness and why it’s a serious matter.
This is something I think about a lot, especially when I see Christians harbor unforgivess and grudges toward others.
There are huge consequences to unforgiveness that God spells out in His word and I don’t know that we often draw them out, and that’s what I’m going to do today. But, there is something else about unforgiveness that is dangerous to the one withholding it and it is the heart and attitude behind it.
Like I said, I’ve been mulling this over in my head for a few months because this year has been a bit of a challenge for my family. There have been some events that have taken place that have caused division, split friendships that have lasted for more than 20 years, and things that reveal what people truly harbor in their hearts. And honestly, it’s wrong. The way that Christians are supposed to handle disagreements, conflict, problems, issues, and all of the hard things in life have nothing to do with withholding forgiveness and taking revenge on others. It has nothing to do with shunning the other person or teaching someone a lesson.
And if we do those things, we must ask ourselves, “Who is my Lord?” Is it me or is it God?
Because if we do it our way and not God’s way, we are putting ourselves in God’s position and booting Him off the thrown of our hearts and saying, “I know better than you, God. I’ll take over from here.”
I know when I discuss these things and remind people of what the Bible says it seems as though I have mastered these difficult asks that God lays out in His word. Nothing is further from the truth. This is not easy for me. But the thing that makes me pray through it and hold fast to His word is the desire to please Him. It is the awareness that I am not God and He is. And sometimes the proper response to the things we just don’t understand or the things that are too hard for us to do, like forgive and allow God to fight for us is this, “You are God and I am not. And for that reason, I will step back and trust you.”
So, with that introduction, let me get specific and lay out exactly what we are going to talk about in this episode:
- What you haven’t been told about unforgiveness.
- Why revenge isn’t the answer and why you don’t want to go there.
- The price of unforgiveness that you’re probably not willing to pay.
So what haven’t you been told about unforgiveness?
Let’s start with what you’ve been told. You’ve probably heard that unforgiveness hurts you more than anyone else because you allow the person who hurt or offended you to live inside your mind. And that’s true. They don’t always know you’re harboring unforgiveness toward them. And maybe they do and don’t care. Either way, your unforgiveness and hurt will remain for as long as you continue to harbor it.
You’ve probably also heard that forgiveness doesn’t equal permission for that person to hurt you again. And it doesn’t. Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that the other person has to remain in your life or a close friend. You might have to move on from that relationship.
You might have been told, and this is true, that the other person doesn’t have to say they’re sorry in order for you to forgive them.
Now these things aren’t wrong. But they aren’t the full story. They’re part of the dialogue when it comes to forgiveness. There is a much deeper and serious message about harboring unforgiveness that is rarely told, and that is that you do not have permission from God to withhold forgiveness to another human being.
And here is the weightier matter: when you do withhold forgiveness, you are setting yourself up as a judge and condemning the other person by saying, “You are not worthy of my forgiveness because what you have done is worse than anything I have done.” And that means we are ultimately setting ourselves up as God.
That means unforgiveness is rooted in pride.
Pride is the opposite of humility. Forgiveness is rooted in humility. The Bible talks a lot about pride and ultimately, pride is the attitude of one consumed with themselves. Now, as Christians, we do not view ourselves as being consumed with ourselves. But that just means that we put our desires before God’s. We put our thoughts above God’s thoughts and do not align our hearts with His thoughts or commands. If we did, we would wrestle through forgiveness. Notice I said we would wrestle through forgiveness because forgiveness is sometimes a process. Especially when it comes to deep hurt.
Proverbs 16:8-9 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Pride destroys and that means if unforgiveness stems from pride, then unforgiveness destroys
A haughty spirit is someone who is blatantly proud. Now, the thing about it is, people don’t usually recognize or admit when they’re proud. So how does one recognize if they are a proud person?
Here are a few:
- You set yourself above others. Which means you think you’re better than them. You compare yourself to them and say, “They’re worse than me. They’re wrong and you’re right.”
- You are the center of your universe. And this goes back to a few things I’ve been discussing and I actually posted this on social media a few weeks ago in regard to communication. Do you expect to be hear instead of hearing what the other person has to say? Because a haughty person does that. Do you dominate the conversation? Interrupt or while the other person is speaking, you are thinking of your next rebuttal or what you want to get off your chest?
- A haughty person is ungrateful. Now again, you can say you’re thankful for God’s blessings and you can say you’re thankful for His grace, but there is a way to know if you are truly thankful. Do you know what that is? When you extend that grace to others when they wrong you. If you can do that, you are truly grateful for God’s grace to you.
No one is immune to battling pride.
We have to recognize it in our lives and we have to go to the Lord in humility, and ask Him to forgive us. That is the remedy for pride. Humility draws us to our knees and helps us see ourselves for who we really are. Pride clouds our vision and hardens our hearts. It can take root so we must be careful to identify it so it doesn’t grow and fester.
But the biggest point to this first point is that when we choose not to forgive, we are playing God. We make ourselves the God of our own hearts because we break the command of God to forgive others. And we’ll get into why that’s a scary thing in a little bit.
The second point I want to talk about is why revenge isn’t the answer and why you don’t want to go there.
And I will tie in grudge holding in here too because so many say they’ve forgiven others and they hold grudges. Or maybe you aren’t sure if you’re working through forgiving someone and are still in that process so you’re confused on whether or not you’re holding a grudge or processing this. I hope this will help shed some light on it for you.