So what is your motivation to forgive? Why even do it? Why seemingly let someone off the hook for their grievous offense? Shouldn't they pay for what they did? The irony, though, is by not forgiving you become the one that pays. It all comes down to one word, one reason you need to forgive: BITTERNESS.
Bitterness happens whenever we don't deal with the hurt that has been handed to us. Jealousy, anger, and ongoing disappointment can lead to it. When we can't forgive and let go of what is happening around us and what happened to us we become bitter, and bitterness has an ugly fruit.
Actually, bitterness is a root.
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15
And the fact that it is a root means that at the beginning it may be hard to detect. It silently grows underneath the surface in a person's heart. Left to grow it eventually produces fruit. So what does the fruit look like? What is the end result of not forgiving and ending up bitter?
Disorder and evil lurk. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:14-16
There is no peace. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. Romans 3:14-17
It defiles those around you. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15
Sin makes you its slave. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin. Acts 8:23
The cruel twist about unforgiveness is that when we are hurt and don't let it go we have the potential to become and act like the person that hurt us. We become a slave to sin and at odds with those around us. I have seen it happen in the lives of family members. The choice not to forgive leaves a person angry, and eventually that anger will spew onto others. You become no better than the one that perpetrated against you.
So how do you get rid of the bitterness? Here is another post I wrote on nine ways to rid yourself of bitterness. God knew that if we hung onto the hurt the hurt would hang us. To be able to forgive will save us from continuing pain.
To read more of 31 Days of Hope and Healing, click here.