Ephesians 4:32 tells us to forgive one another as Christ forgave us. When we don’t it can harm us more than our transgressors because bitterness and resentment are damaging to our mind, body and spirit. When we don’t forgive, we remain a victim of the offense, giving the offender tremendous power over us.
Knowing this, why would anyone choose not to forgive?
- In some relationships there’s an unequal balance of power. If our self-worth is wrapped up in the relationship, the betrayal can feel deeply painful making it harder than normal to forgive.
- Sometimes choosing not to forgive can keep us from looking at our part in the relationship or situation.
- Remaining a ‘victim’ of the offense can garner attention or sympathy from others.
- We may feel it’s safer not to forgive than to open ourselves up to being hurt again.
If self-esteem is an issue; examining why there’s an unequal balance of power in the relationship can help us see our part in the dynamic. Not only will this make forgiveness easier, it will help us set better boundaries with people going forward.
Understanding the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation can help relieve our fears of being hurt again. Forgiveness is an individual choice and it does not necessary mean we are required to have a relationship with the other person. It is possible to forgive and not be reconciled; or to forgive and be reconciled at a later time when we feel ready.
Choosing not to forgive allows bitterness to take root in our heart and can ultimately block us from loving others. The bible says people will know we are Christians by our love. In order to be one, we must choose to forgive.