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What does the Bible say about people that don’t forgive?

In the Bible, forgiveness is a central theme that is emphasized throughout its teachings. It is essential for believers to understand the importance of forgiveness and the consequences of not forgiving others. The Bible makes it clear that those who do not forgive will not receive forgiveness from God. Let us explore what the Scriptures say about this topic and the lessons we can learn from them.

Biblical teachings on forgiveness

One of the key passages that addresses the issue of forgiveness is found in Matthew 6:14-15. Jesus states, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” These verses emphasize the importance of forgiveness in our relationships with others and with God.

Jesus’ teachings in these verses reveal that our forgiveness of others is directly linked to our ability to receive forgiveness from God. When we hold onto unforgiveness, we hinder our own forgiveness and create a barrier between ourselves and our Heavenly Father. Therefore, forgiveness is not merely a suggestion but a commandment that we must heed.

The example of forgiveness in Jesus’ life

One powerful example of forgiveness in the Bible is seen in Luke 23:34 when Jesus is crucified. In the midst of immense pain and suffering, Jesus prays for those who are responsible for His crucifixion, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” This act of forgiveness is astounding and serves as a model for believers to follow.

It is crucial to understand the context of this verse. Jesus was unjustly accused, beaten, and nailed to a cross, yet He chose to forgive those who inflicted harm upon Him. This act of forgiveness demonstrates the depth of Jesus’ love and mercy. As followers of Christ, we are called to imitate His example and extend forgiveness to others, no matter the circumstances.

The parable of the unforgiving servant

Another powerful illustration of the importance of forgiveness is found in Matthew 18:21-35. This parable tells the story of a servant who begs for mercy from his master after incurring an enormous debt. The master, moved with compassion, forgives the servant’s debt entirely. However, when the servant encounters a fellow servant who owes him a smaller amount, he refuses to show the same kind of mercy and demands payment.

In this parable, the master represents God, and the servants represent us, the believers. The parable teaches us that God’s forgiveness towards us is vast and immeasurable. However, if we fail to extend forgiveness to others, we dishonor and disregard the incredible mercy that has been shown to us.

From this parable, we learn that forgiveness is not a one-time act but an ongoing process. It requires us to continually choose mercy and grace, just as God has shown us. When we withhold forgiveness, we not only miss out on experiencing the freedom and healing that forgiveness brings but also damage our own relationship with God.

Consequences of harboring unforgiveness

The Bible makes it clear that harboring unforgiveness can have severe consequences. When we refuse to forgive others, we hinder our own forgiveness from God. Our unwillingness to let go of resentment and bitterness poisons our spiritual growth and well-being. Unforgiveness creates a barrier that prevents us from receiving God’s love and experiencing His peace.

Additionally, unforgiveness hinders reconciliation and healing in our relationships. It perpetuates a cycle of hurt and pain, preventing the restoration of broken bonds. By holding onto grudges, we are trapped in emotional bondage and deny ourselves the opportunity to move forward and experience true freedom.

Steps for forgiveness

Forgiveness is not always easy, but with God’s help, it is possible. Here are some practical steps we can take toward forgiveness:

1. Acknowledge the hurt and pain: Recognize the impact that the offense has had on you and acknowledge your emotions.

2. Choose to let go of resentment and bitterness: Make a conscious decision to release the negative feelings and replace them with forgiveness and compassion.

3. Seek God’s help in forgiving others: Pray and ask God for His grace and strength to forgive those who have hurt you.

4. Practice forgiveness as an ongoing process: Forgiveness is not a one-time event; it is a continual choice to let go of resentment and extend grace toward others.

The transformative power of forgiveness

Forgiveness has the power to transform lives and relationships. When we choose to forgive, we open the door to healing and reconciliation. Forgiveness allows us to find personal peace and freedom from the emotional burdens we carry. It reflects the nature of God’s love and mercy and strengthens the bond of a healthy and vibrant Christian community.

When we forgive, we not only release the offender from the debt they owe us but also free ourselves from the chains of bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness can mend broken relationships, restore trust, and bring about a sense of wholeness and unity. It is through forgiveness that we are able to reflect God’s love and extend His grace to others.


The Bible is clear about the importance of forgiveness and the consequences of not forgiving others. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus makes it clear that those who do not forgive will not be forgiven by God. The example of Jesus’ forgiveness on the cross and the parable of the unforgiving servant serve as powerful reminders of the importance of extending forgiveness to others.

Harboring unforgiveness can have detrimental effects on our relationship with God and hinder our personal growth. However, by acknowledging the pain, choosing to let go of resentment, seeking God’s help, and practicing forgiveness as an ongoing process, we can experience the transformative power of forgiveness.

May we strive to be a people who forgive, reflecting God’s love and mercy to a world in need of reconciliation and healing. Let us remember the words of Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”


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