There are consequences to unforgiveness. Terrible, horrific consequences that affect not just me but all those around me—and most grievously the ones I love most.
Hebrews 12:15 AMP
Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it…
The problem is most of us don’t even realize that we are living in the consequences produced by our unforgiveness and bitterness. Torment, guilt, rejection, and often fear—all suffering that we have reaped through our own willful disobedience. I know I certainly didn’t see it for a very long time. And that danger ever remains when I do not forgive.
The Beginning of Unforgiveness
There is a generation that curses its father,
And does not bless its mother.
There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes,
Yet is not washed from its filthiness…
…The eye that mocks his father,
And scorns obedience to his mother,
The ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young eagles will eat it.
It seems bitterness with parents is primal, whether they were wonderful or terrible or somewhere in between. Jacob/Israel, God’s chosen family, is a study in bitterness and unforgiveness, leading to murderous jealousy and torment for all. It’s primal. And bitterness begins there with our parents.
Our parents are our first idols and our first authorities. They will be the first to disappoint us and challenge our demands and independence and rule. Family is our very first world. Of course, unforgiveness only begins there, but its roots grow deep until the Spirit brings His light and exposes them. Some will choose to see and be brought to repentance and forgiveness, and then be forgiven and cleansed, even transformed. Others may see, but will walk away and remain in their pitiful state, contaminating and defiling everyone they come in contact with. Many will refuse to ever choose or see – a whole world contaminating and defiling each other. This is the world we live in, frightening to be sure. So very frightening. Those roots were deep in me and had to be dug out, so Love came to do just that.
Love Exposes Unforgiveness
I remember Martha saying to me years ago, “You have a lot of repenting to do.” And I thought to myself, “Really, what for? What is she talking about?” Shocked? Well, as shocking as that may be, that is how blind I was to myself. That is how far into unreality I had gone because of the bitterness that I buried…unforgiveness by unforgiveness in my heart.
“The eye…the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.” That is blindness. And that is one of the most deadly consequences of all. Blindness, willful blindness to myself. I was in the prison of my own making, by my own choices, living superficially without heart because unforgiveness harbors a hard, unapproachable heart. And the only way out for me was to bow to the light and correction that the Lord sent, to choose to see myself as the Lord saw me and choose to be utterly honest at any cost.
To be brought into the awareness, the realization of my willful blindness was only the beginning. It is a gift, and it takes the Holy Spirit to search it out. To have my eyes opened to finally see my family and all the people whom I defiled and contaminated with my unforgiveness was horrifying. But to realize that it was really God that I sinned against, rejected, and so much worse was – and is – an agony that lead to true repentance and restoration.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 AMP
Yet I am glad now, not because you were pained, but because you were pained into repentance [and so turned back to God]; for you felt a grief such as God meant you to feel…
For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly [breeding and ending in death].