Dollar Photo ForgiveWhat happens when you don’t forgive? Do you want to know a few things that could possibly happen if don’t eventually come to a place where you are able to release the hurt you are feeling and forgive? Below are a few points you might want to prayerfully consider on this painful journey:

Not forgiving interferes with the effectiveness of your prayer life.

(See: Mark 11:25.) That means your prayers don’t get answered. That means you can’t experience the full benefits of God’s forgiveness if you are not forgiving others —especially your spouse. It means God puts your blessings on hold and waits until you take care of that unfinished business.

Not forgiving evaporates your joy. When you don’t forgive, it brings up a barrier to the joy God has for you. No one is ever truly happy if they have unforgiveness in their heart.

Not forgiving weakens your body. It eats away at you and eventually takes over and destroys your life from the inside. It makes you physically sick as well as spiritually crippled. When you forgive you release it into God’s hand and healing comes for your body as well as your soul.

Not forgiving opens the door for the enemy to work in your life. We have to forgive “lest Satan should take advantage of us” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We invite the enemy in if we harbor unforgiveness. And when you treat your spouse as if he (she) is the enemy —or your spouse acts as if you are —you align yourselves with your true enemy and his plans for your future.

Not forgiving pollutes your soul. The Bible says, “Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” (James 3:11). If you have unforgiveness, the water in your soul will become bitter.

Seven More Things to Remember About Not Forgiving

1. Not forgiving will torture you.

“‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you? And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:33-35).

2. Not forgiving causes you to entertain thoughts of revenge.

“Do not say, ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work'” (Proverbs 24:29).

3. Not forgiving means you won’t be forgiven by God.

“But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).

4. Not forgiving delays the answers to your prayers.

“Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).

5. Not forgiving means you see the failures of others, but not your own.

“Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye?” (Matthew 7:3-5).

6. Not forgiving means you are walking in darkness.

“He who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:11).

7. Not forgiving means you are not pursuing what is best for your marriage.

“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

…I know that the last thing you may feel like doing is praying for your spouse if he (she) has hurt you, but that is what God wants you to do. In the process He will heal your pain because He is the God who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

God will help you forgive so completely that you really don’t think about those hurtful things anymore. As you pray, God will give you His heart of love. You always grow to love the person you pray for. Try it; you’ll see. God wants you to live “not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Keep in Mind

God isn’t calling you to forgive so He can rub your nose in what offended or hurt you. He is asking you to forgive because when you do, you will inherit all that he has for you.

This article is adapted from the excellent book, Praying Through the Deeper Issues of Marriage: Protecting Your Relationship So It Will Last a Lifetime by Stormie Omartian, published by Harvest House Publishers. There is a lot more information to the above article that comes from the chapter on “If Forgiveness Doesn’t Come Easy” that you may find helpful in reading.

In addition, you will find that there are other helpful chapters you can read on anger, rudeness, and abuse. There are also chapters on communication break downs, depression, negative emotions, having children dominate your marriage, addictions and other destructive behaviors. Each chapter also has Scripture Truths to Stand on as well as Prayers for Protection on those particular subjects. Plus, there are Prayer Breakthroughs for you and also for your spouse. This is an excellent book that we highly recommend!

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Filed under: Bitterness and Forgiveness

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  1. (USA)  Forgiveness is one thing but forgetting how someone keeps hurting you and repeating the same pattern is another.

    1. I agree with you totally. Giving forgiveness does not equal forgetting or forgetfulness, nor does it equal giving trust, after giving forgiveness –trust must be earned, nor does it equal getting back together with the person you have forgiven. That’s a separate decision.

      1. Forgiveness and forgetting work together. If we say we forgive but we can’t forget what someone did to hurt us then we’ve not truly forgiven because when we see the person that hurt us we’ll remember the wrong doing but that doesn’t mean we should blindly trust. Joseph, for example, was betrayed by his brothers, but he forgave them, in forgiving he let go, but he tested them to confirm that they were truly repentant and had turned from their old way. Forgiveness is knowing someone owes you so much but then canceling the debt, not expecting to be paid back

  2. (ZIMBABWE)  I just read an article that has helped me a great deal. It made me realise that some of the frustrations I have with my wife are due to the fact that at times, I have not prioritized my relationship with God. As couples let God come first and we can then forgive and live.

  3. (AUSTRALIA)  I have been happily married and I thought that nothing can hinder the happiness I felt with my husband. My husband is such a loving person and we agree in all things. I thought we were perfect for each other. However, I found out something he had done that disrespected his vows to me and disrespect me as a person and as a wife. I found a note at the boot of his car intended for a lady in our congregation.

    The letter was him seeking a friend but he also wrote lovely words to the lady that he said you never know what will happen in the future. Upon confronting him he threw at me many issues, which were underlying inside him which I was not aware of. He said that I am too bossy and that he cannot have a say on things and he was unhappy with the way things are going.

    I was hurt and the amount of anger within me was immeasurable. I was in pain but after he saw it in the next couple of days he said he did not plan on cheating on me and that he just needed a friend to talk to. He didn’t want to leave our marriage and he said that he also needs attention. All the while we were married he never complained about anything. All I know was that I am more of the planner in our relationship because of his indecisiveness.

    He apologized and said there was nothing more than just that letter. But he already planted the seed of doubt and I have bitterness and resentment towards him. I wanted to leave him because he insulted me and I am finding it hard to forgive him even though he swore on the Bible that that was only what he did, write a letter.

    But for me it was an indication that he wanted to have another woman in his life. I am struggling at the moment because he has changed everything. He messed up our loving relationship and now I cannot be the same person again. I can’t forgive him. What do I do? Please help.

    1. Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Believe what he said, try to listen more to what he says. Not forgiving can lead him to the arms of other women as you will not be listening due to not forgiving and you’ll lose both ways. I advise you to draw closer to God with your Husband as well. You can ask God for the grace to forgive because it’s not an easy thing to do. Don’t allow the Devil get into your home due to doubt or not forgiving. The Lord will help you.

  4. (US)  I do not know if anyone will read this being so far down the reply poll. But has anyone given thought to the idea of God forgiving the devil? Sounds absurd doesn’t it?

    I have been raised a believer since an early age. I have not always followed the path of God and straying in my own selfishness from time to time. But I can say that I truly try to follow the path.

    To say to forgive and forget is a grand idea. But when someone is left with the scars that still hurt, it is impossible to truely forgive. Would you offer someone a loan without wanting them to pay it back? I did not say Give, I said Loan. This is the entire basis of relationships. People are Human, not gods.

    I believe Jesus was God made Man, and so being had the power to die for our sins. We are not Jesus, we can only strive more like Him.

    Let me know the last time you walked on water, healed the blind or sick, changed water to wine, or fed so many with 2 loaves and a couple fish. God’s power is infinite. We are only human.

    Keep this in mind when asking for forgiveness. It has become a child’s way to try to repay a debt with something less tangible and placing God’s name on it. It also is a way to allow the continuation of allowing the act to take place. Would you forgive someone who raped or murdered your child? No, Who in their right mind would? I know a lot of what forgiveness is based on may not be so severe in perspective. But what if you added it all up?

    I will keep it short and simply be a voice in speaking about my own opinion of God. I would say seek forgiveness regardless of your deeds because we are all human and are all beneath God and God’s Power. But they say that the Devil’s reign will only be for so long before he cast into the fire. I just hope He lets me stay in Heaven when he takes his gloves off.

    1. (USA) But The Word of God already is and was. Jesus is The Word manifest in the flesh and at his death he said “It is finished.” The Word and God WILL NEVER CHANGE and Satan will never be different because he refuses to repent. Revelation already happened. God transported the Apostle John in time to record it all. It will not turn out any differently than it is written. God is eternal, no beginning and no end.

      I thought that once also long ago, but Satan is the father of all lies and pride. He was God’s most beautiful angel named Lucifer but said he would take God’s place and rule. He was stricken hideous and a third of the angels went with hum. they are not in hell as so many believe but on the earth until the final battle where they will be cast into hell forever. He’s not sorry and knows he is defeated but trying to take as many of us down with him in the time he has left. He isn’t messing with the lost world, they are already on his path. He’s messing with those that stand a chance of hearing and believing the truth and going to Heaven, mainly in the Church.

      We are the only way he can hurt God and does so by attacking God’s most precious. Marriage/Family and Children. Satan hates us and has no friends. When people realize that what all sexual sin is -Adultery as well as homosexuality -then they realize how horrific and dangerous it is. A direct attack of Satan on God and all He loves. God’s plans for us is to marry, becoming one flesh and raising a family, teaching them to love Him so the generations after them can be taught the same. Not many realize that though and there is no love outside of Christ. Just Satan’s filthy counterfeit. Scripture tells all of this. By commiting sexual sin, we are enabling Satan to hurt God the only way he can. By hurting us.

  5. (ZIMBABWE) I don’t know when it happened but I woke up one morning two weeks ago and was angry and I’m still angry and irritable til now. I’ve been married for 7 years. There has been a lot of pain in my marriage. I cannot remember a year that went by without my husband cheating on me and denying it until maybe a year or so later. I’ve had unpleasant encounters with the other women.

    He did apologise a year ago and said he wanted to work on our marriage but recenlty my sister confessed she had been having an affair with him till the beginning of this year. He denies this and says she is framing him, that he has never looked at another woman ever since he came clean. How do I believe him? In fact when I found out something in me just snapped, and went cold. Its been more than two months but I don’t feel anything for him. I don’t care about this marriage. I just won’t be bothered.

    When we have sex I feel like I’m doing him a favour. I was sexually abused by my father and to me they are now in the same category. I try imagining him with my sister and I find it morally unacceptable. My sister had no reason to lie or destroy my marriage. I feel like I’m going crazy. I’m at a point where I snap at my kids, am irritable and find it tiresome to talk to any of my friends. Am I crazy? Have I lost it?

    It’s like every emotion I’ve ever felt over the years, the betrayal, the humiliation, the hurt, it’s all crushing me down. How do I survive? I know I love him, somewhere, somehow. But right now at this hour, I want out of this marriage. I can’t forgive, I don’t have the strength to. I’m so angry I start crying the moment I read articles on forgiveness, not because I’m convicted, but because I feel like they don’t understand what I’m going through.

    I don’t think I will ever trust him or my sister again. It’s like I lost two best friends in a single blow. How do I forgive him if I don’t know what to forgive? How do I forgive my sister if she is lying? I thought I had forgiven him all his previous affairs. Now it’s all coming back to me. Why can’t I separate this from his other wrongdoings?

    1. Dear MJ, It’s no wonder you are “angry and irritable” and a whole lot more. My dear, you are going through stages of grief, and it’s no wonder. Your husband and now your sister –someone else you never expected to betray you, slashed at your heart as deeply as possible. The stages of grief are basically: –Denial (“This can’t be happening to me”) — Anger — Bargaining — Depression and — Acceptance (“I can’t fight it”). You don’t necessarily go through these stages in order and sometimes you go through them repeatedly.

      You have a LOT to sort out. This is more than the average person can even conceive could happen to them. Give yourself grace here. God is. You have a right to be angry, feel crushed emotionally, betrayed, lacking in trust, enraged, numb, “crazy,” skeptical, incensed, bitter –feeling a HUGE sense of loss, just to name a few. Give yourself permission to take the time to process through all the ramifications this horrible betrayal has brought into your life.

      And please, work to sort out what forgiveness REALLY is. It’s not trusting again… that is earned. It’s not excusing, or forgetting, or condoning, or NOT hurting, or acting as if everything is hunky-dory –because it’s not. You will be forever changed by this. Your innocence is gone. But that doesn’t mean that you have to live a destroyed life. You can eventually get to the place where you live a victorious life –one of a survivor –one of a thriver.

      Forgiveness is a process and the one that is released from the imprisonment of unforgiveness is NOT the one or ones who did these things to you –it’s you. It’s handing this horrible, terrible, undeserving, heart ripping and shredding experience over to God and saying, “I can’t entertain this in my mind anymore. I can’t carry the burden of allowing this monster to eat away at my emotions anymore. I can’t allow this to negatively color my world for the rest of my life anymore. I can’t allow myself to spend anymore time hating, loathing (or whatever negative emotion you can think of)… I let it go and let YOU God, deal with this. I’m investing my emotions into something and/or someone less toxic — This is yours, and every time my mind starts to wander there, I’m letting it go — it’s all yours.”

      Now, first thing, this is a process — a journey. When you have been cut so deeply by 2 people you have dearly loved and trusted, it would be almost impossible for this to be a short journey. You have a lot to consider here and a lot to put properly to rest. Please don’t be mad at yourself if forgiving takes a long time. It very well could and probably should, so you aren’t just burying emotions but you deal with them and put to rest that which you should, when it is the right time.

      Also, you have at least two people to deal with in what to do with –whether you have fully forgiven them yet, or not. Forgiveness is separate from trusting them ever again and separate from reconciling with them again –one or the other or both. You need to decide what to do with them. I can’t (and neither can anyone else) tell you what to do about them. Do you ever allow them to be a part of your life again and if so, in what way? That’s what you have to decide. That is separate from forgiving. Please read through and glean from the “Bitterness and Forgiveness” topic on this web site –even if they bring tears. Tears are cleansing. It’s all a part of the healing process for something as painful as this. What you can see applies (as far as advice), do so …what doesn’t, throw away (other than scriptures). Human advice is not all-knowing and divine. It’s to be considered and then used according to its worth in your situation.

      I am so sorry that you have had men you trusted (your husband and your father), and your own sister, along with other women, betray you like this. You have been a survivor up to this point, and I’m trusting God for you that you will become an even stronger survivor eventually –one that can help others through horrors that they encounter in their lives. Cry, wale, pray, scream, ponder, contemplate, and determine your way through this situation. May God give you grace, peace beyond understanding, and be a very present help in a time of need for you. My heart is with you, and my prayers go out for you –that you will eventually find your smile again.

      1. (ZIMBABWE) Thank you Cindy, for the first time in months I feel somebody understands. I thank God for you and your ministry. It’s not easy but I’m hanging in there. Just today I came across your Marriage Message #193: Why forgive?, because that’s exactly what I’ve been asking myself. Somehow it made sense to me, especially this part:

        “Part of offering grace is to set clear-cut boundaries that protect us from further abuse. Forgiving from our heart isn’t being a punching bag. Although the Lord forgives, he doesn’t tolerate sin, and neither should we.”

        It’s not easy, but learning about forgiveness is helping clear out the fog in my mind.

  6. (AUSTRALIA) Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you have to forget what they did or even reconcile with the. If someone has hurt you or betrayed you, sometimes the best thing to do is to get out of the relationship and find some time for yourself to think and feel happy independently. When you are ready and the person shows serious remorse, then you can forgive them and move on. But that doesn’t mean that you have to go back to them and let them into your life again.

    Trust, loyaly and respect are some of the most important things in ANY type of relationship, and once they’re gone it can be very hard to get them back with the same person. Sometimes it’s best to just forgive when you’re ready, accept what has happened, and realise that you are better off without this person because now you know what they are truly like and nobody deserves to be betrayed. I say forgive when you are willing and ready, and then move on with your life and find happiness independently because you can!

  7. (USA) I’ve been married to my wonderful wife for 13 years. We have 5 beautiful children together. I wasn’t always the best husband because honestly I always thought she couldn’t find a better man than me. I was very foolish and head strong and strong willed until the day she left. I’m glad she left. I needed her to do it. I have not tried this hard or even wanted to in all my life to be a better husband.

    We had a lot of difficulties surrounding the separation and she has now filed for divorce. I stand ready to show her a changed man but all my past short comings have made her feel founded in staying away for 3 mos and 5 days, today. I’ve given her space but she hasn’t let me see the kids in all that time. We were happy before, before I lost sight of how truly special she is to me. If anyone feels compelled to pray for us, her name is Nicole, I’m Robert and I’m just praying for Gods will. He knows if I’ve pushed her too far away. I feel personally responsible for bringing her from a sweet mild mannered young lady into an angry bitter woman. God help her to see that I’m trying so hard to be the kind of man that she can be proud of. I am having so much trouble with her refusing to forgive me.

  8. (USA) I’ve been married for 10 years + and now I’m going through a terrible divorce. I have accepted Jesus as my Savior and believe on him as Lord of my life. I have read scripture and continue to dedicate reading daily, and have come to realize that forgiving is more than just saying it, it is a commitment of sincerity. Just like when you confess Jesus as lord, you also commit to living your life to the gospel that is preached. Forgiveness is a commandment from God to the believer. I must confess that it took many painful months (3 years) to realize my faults and stop pointing my finger at her faults and try to justify my actions. I am now at the feet of Christ and ashamed of my actions. I believe that forgiveness is accepting the gospel in it’s entirety. My statement about forgiveness is my testimony for my faults. May God bring peace through tribulation and forgiveness to everyone that cries out to the Lord.

  9. I’m in a dilemma with unfinished business with a guy I used to date. We had our fall out two years ago and this July he texted me. I didn’t reply back; but 4 months later, I’m still wondering if I made the right decision. I have this bitter burden on my heart that I need to release- foregiveness. Even though he hurt ME, I feel like in order for me to move on (dating) I need to let go. I’m really trying to learn more about giving my agression to God and ask to bless him. Any advice?

    1. Nicole, I would encourage you to keep praying. God is big enough to handle your anger toward this fellow, so go ahead and get it out in prayer. And then, ask God to bless him –not in generic ways, but in specific ways. Ask for him to be favored in his job, or to sense God’s love for him. If there is a particular problem or temptation that he faces and you know about, pray for God to help him in that area.

      I can fully relate to your feelings and situation. I have poured my heart out to God with many, many different emotions. I have prayed Psalm 35:1 many times: “Plead my cause, Lord.” I have also found it useful to pray Scripture by slightly adapting verses: “God, you have not given (name) the spirit of fear. Please give him power, love and especially, a sound mind.” Or I pray the promises in Ezekial 36: “God, you said you would take away the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh and create new and right desires. Please do that.” It has helped me have a different attitude and develop more compassion.

      Although my situation is not where I would like it to be, I feel strongly that God wants me to continue to pray. I do believe God is still at work even though the results are hidden right now. Another way to process your emotions is by writing a letter that you never intend to mail. Put your feelings down to this person, for your eyes only. You may want to explore why you didn’t respond to his text in July. Pray about what God would have you do.

  10. Please pray for me and my wife to reconcile after 2 1/2 year separation, that the Lord makes soft hearts in us, all for the permanence of marriage to those who are close to us. Rid the fear and doubt that He will and can. Keep the marriages of my children and marriages to be for my grandchildren to be pure. To correct my mother, as well my brother’s immoral relationships. Amen.

  11. Dear reader, I have always wondered how one can forgive, if there is no apology from the other person. Doesn’t the Bible teach us that there must be an apology to merit forgiveness?

    And what about people who never say “thank you” and take everything that comes to them for granted as if they deserve it? Thank you for your reply. – R.F.S. Amsterdam

    1. You cannot do their part, you can only do yours. Please look through the Quotes part of the Bitterness and Forgiveness topic. You can find them at: https://marriagemissions.com/about-us-2/quotes-on-bitterness-and-forgiveness/. You will see that forgiveness is something God asks of US to free US, more than it frees the other person. They still have to answer to God, but we don’t when we release them to Him by forgiving them. It doesn’t condone their actions, nor does it enable them to do more harm, or build trust that has been broken. It just sets us free from nursing and rehearsing, and continually remembering the sting of it all.

      We can’t MAKE them apologize. That wouldn’t solve anything. It wouldn’t be sincere. But until they do apologize and repent, they are still bound to the wrong that they did. They WILL eventually pay for that. But even if they don’t apologize, we still need to settle it in our hearts that we will release the whole thing to God, as He asks us. If a crime has been committed, that doesn’t mean that we don’t still report them because otherwise we’re enabling them to keep doing what they’ve done, and that would be wrong, as well. But WE aren’t the ones who enact revenge –God does (and if a crime has been committed the legal system needs to do its part). Again, we aren’t responsible for their apology; we’re just responsible for releasing the matter to God. We don’t ever have to trust them again, or have a close relationship with them, or any relationship. If they aren’t trustworthy, that would be foolhardy to subject ourselves to their wrong doing. But we need to release the bitterness and the mindset to make them pay, by our hand, for what they have done.

      And as far as the “thank you” question …if a person takes something from you that you give out of generosity, and that person isn’t grateful for the sacrifice you made, and doesn’t say thank you, then don’t give to them again. You aren’t obligated to give them what is yours. You aren’t their keeper. If they act like that type of fool, then don’t give into their folly. Let them be without. Perhaps eventually it will prompt them to be more grateful in the future. But if you keep giving to an ungrateful fool, then wouldn’t you then be the bigger fool?

  12. Awesome. I have enjoyed the message and am going to use it to give advice to friends to forgive.

  13. This is purely scriptural. I am writing a book on Single & Married Relationship now. Can I have your permission to include this piece in the “forgiving the unforgivable” chapter of my book.

    1. J.C., If this article was originally ours, then yes, we could give you permission; but it’s not. Here is the information about the author, the publisher and the book it came from: “The above article is adapted from the excellent book, Praying Through the Deeper Issues of Marriage: Protecting Your Relationship So It Will Last a Lifetime by Stormie Omartian, published by Harvest House Publishers. There is a lot more to the above article that comes from the chapter on “If Forgiveness Doesn’t Come Easy” that you may find helpful in reading.”

      You should start by contacting Harvest House Publishers at the following web link: https://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/contact.

      We hope this helps. ~Steve Wright, Marriage Missions International

  14. I have hurt my husband who works hard. I did this by spending money. He forgave me but always reminded me and I did it again. Now he won’t forgive me. I ask that you pray for me and my husband.

  15. I and my husband had group of old friends couples in the church. A guy was divorced and he was still friend with us for many years. One day, my husband either heard directly or indirectly that this old guy friend had said something about either me or my husband that made him jealous and he does not want us to talk with that person any longer. If this guy’s brother and wife invites us for their kid’s social event, my husband will tell me to apologize and say we cannot make it to avoid seen our friend’s brother who offended him.

    I am really struggling with this because I see my husband as unforgiving person. That will not allow us to experience God’s blessing for our home and children. Unfortunately, my husband thinks that he has forgiven this person by not associating with him or any member in his family. So should I leave this in God’s hand and not to tell my husband anything? I always have heated discussion with him when I tell him to get over this and just say hi without having an actual conversation the way it used to be. We are in small church and it is hard to avoid people like that.