Unforgiveness – A Load too Heavy to Bear – Part One

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12


My friend’s family struggled with unforgiveness at her father’s funeral. Over the years, he had hurt them deeply, with no repentance. That day, the pastor made a statement that gave the family a new perspective on unforgiveness. “If you refuse to forgive someone, you give that person power over you.”

It matters not if the person is near or far away, dead or alive. When we harbor unforgiveness toward anyone, we place ourselves in bondage to their sin, as well as our own. There is no freedom of forgiveness for the unforgiving heart.

For the believer, there is nothing as disturbing as unresolved conflict. I know this from experience. I tend to withdraw when I’m misunderstood or misread. And yet, how can others understand me when they can’t read my mind? Can I expect others to care when they don’t know I’m hurting?

Ongoing resentment stifles our relationship with God, as well as one another. I’ll admit I react inwardly to impatience or a sharp tongue. Oh, I work hard at covering up resentment. But the truth is I can become trapped in an unforgiveness syndrome. I know I need to forgive, ought to forgive. But when I’m angry or hurt, I don’t want to forgive.

When I’m slow to forgive, my resentment turns to rationalization. So, what do I do? I throw myself a pity party. I only invite three guests, me-myself-and I. I decorate the walls of my heart with self-defending rubbish.

It’s only a matter of time until I have a choice to make. I can continue to entertain myself with excuses. Or I can call off the party. I don’t like myself as the pity part girl. Besides, I’m lonely and I don’t enjoy the party being all about me.

I inform myself and me that I really do want to be a loving, caring person. So, the three of us decide to call the whole thing off. Without asking what my feelings think, I confess by faith my resentment and unforgiveness. I sincerely pray for God to replace my unforgiving spirit with His Spirit. You won’t believe what happens next! I can actually feel that load of unforgiveness being lifted off me.

What about the conflict yet to be resolved? Well, I can do one of two things. I can share my hurt with the other person. That is, as long as I speak in love rather than anger. (Eph. 4:15-16) Or I can dismiss the conflict as my own vain imagination. Either way, I ask God to heal my self-inflicted wounds. No more mulling it over in my mind. That’s no longer an option.

Your situation may not be as petty as mine. You may have a valid set of heart documented reasons not to forgive someone. You’ve been hurt unmercifully. The person hasn’t asked for your forgiveness, or done anything to deserve it. And yet, you’re the one who is suffering.

Consider this. Perhaps the offense is not the cause of your misery. Perhaps unforgiveness is your culprit. More than likely, you don’t want to be a bitter person, but what do you do about it?

I hope this doesn’t sound too simple, but it works for me. When I reach an impasse with my anger or unforgiveness, I don’t know how to pray. So, I pray Psalm 51:10&12. I suggest you make the following prayer your own. I’ve underlined four words for emphasis. Use them as a guide to help you pour out your pain to God. Confess your sin of unforgiveness, and ask God to restore your forgiving spirit. And then, trust Him to do just that, regardless of your life circumstances.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” Amen

Note: While studying for this post, I realized I cannot bypass the significance of Matthew 6:12 in light of Matthew 6:14-15. I’m thinking you may have been as confused about these verses as I have. So, next week we’re going to reason together as to what they really mean. Perhaps you’d like to join me in praying for the Lord to guide our understanding. That way, we can expect Him to keep us on the right track. I hope it will be a refreshing reminder of God’s amazing grace.



4 Responses to “Unforgiveness – A Load too Heavy to Bear – Part One”
  1. Nora B. says:

    Truly a gift and I am so grateful for your message. Thank you sweet Liz.

  2. Mary Beth Welsh says:

    Good Morning Mom, it was wonderful actually being with you last Thursday! I have often said parts of those verses at times when I needed nenewal like restore to me the joy of your salvation. I think most of us miss out on the joy most of the time. I think this verse will become a verse I start the day with and of course use as you have suggested. This seems to be a key verse to pray so that God will change from within and I don’t become that bitter old person we have talked about before who, when not in control, is not a very pretty person. If God has changed me from within then even when I have no control He will. (control can be thought of in terms of dementia as we have talked about, I think too of being drugged say after surgery but it can also be when I am just simply exhausted; and therefore, not really in control. 🙂 ) I love you, Mary Beth

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