Why Do You Not Forgive?

Posted by on Jun 19, 2016 in Forgiveness, Heart-Based | 0 comments

Why Do You Not Forgive?

Jesus Christ teaches us to forgive all others—those who owe us, those who wronged us, those who failed us—if we want to be forgiven by our Heavenly Father. And He tells us that forgiveness must take place in our heart, so we won’t be turned over to the torturers.

Yet many of us find it difficult to do what Jesus says. Living in an age of retribution, we are holding grudges and grievances and a need to make offenders pay for what they did to us. Why do we not forgive?


One reason is because we are ignorant of what forgiveness entails. Sometimes we are simply unaware that we need to forgive. The hurtful experience may have happened when we were very young, or we may have forgotten the sinful offense because it happened many years ago. The hurt and unforgiveness dropped deep into our subconscious and bitterness took root in our hearts.

The regions of the subconscious are below the level of our awareness, and we do not always know what lies therein.

Other times we may have denied the unjust injury, believing it never happened. Or we may have deceived ourselves into thinking we have forgiven. We said the words I forgive, but our heart never let go of the unjust offense. And the tangled roots of resentment, revenge, and hatred live on deep within us. Hidden from sight, we are unaware that we are nurturing the offense in our heart. We are oblivious of how many times we recite our list of grievances or of the edge of bitterness on the words we speak. Others hear it, but we do not.

More reasons why we don’t forgive

  • We take all the blame: we think it must be our fault―what’s wrong with me―and not the unjust action of someone else.
  • We think we are being good by denying or minimizing what happened.
  • We don’t want to admit we were hurt.
  • We want to make someone feel the pain we’ve felt or punish them.
  • We believe that hanging on to our anger empowers and protects us from being hurt again.
  • We enjoy being angry and plotting to take revenge.
  • We are afraid of condoning someone’s unjust action.
  • We are afraid to feel the pain, because it hurts too much, so we can’t possibly forgive.
  • We are numb, unable to feel our own feelings.
  • We desire to be God, to take our own revenge.
  • If we forgive, we are letting go of the hope of ever righting the wrong or getting retribution.
  • We think forgiveness is aimed at reconciliation, so we have to continue a relationship with our offender.
  • We need deliverance from an evil spirit.
  • We think the blood of Jesus is not enough for our offender’s sin & we must make them pay.
  • We’ve hardened our heart and rejected the “voice” of the Holy Spirit.

Search my heart

Because resentments and bitterness are often concealed in painful memories, we can ask the Lord to search our heart and see if there is any pain in us like the psalmist did:

Search me O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any way of pain in me (Ps 139:23).

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