Obstacles to Forgiving

I talk with many people who are bitter. At some point in their life they have been hurt by someone else and they have carried the pain of that event ever since. This pain has so integrated itself into them both emotionally and intellectually that it has actually become a part of their psyche.

The problem with this is that pain and bitterness are active in our life, not passive. If left unchecked, this root of bitterness will continue to grow deeper in us, filling us with anger and resentment. It will spread into our treatment of others, affecting our relationships. It will blossom into unhappiness, rage, wrath, spitefulness and unkindness. It can even have an effect on us physically.

You would think that any person would gladly turn loose of such a cancerous presence in their life. Sadly, many do not. For some reason, they nurse that grudge and treasure it like Gollum and the ring. It becomes their “precious”.

Why would they not release something that is so harmful? I have heard many excuses, without exception they are rooted in pride.

Some feel that by forgiving others, they are yielding their own right to be hurt and are empowering the one who hurt them. Some think that if they forgive, they are saying that the other person was right. Some believe that by forgiving, they are saying that what the other person did was okay. The bottom line is, they feel that they are entitled to carry the hurt, anger and bitterness.

None of this is true. Forgiveness actually empowers the one who forgives. Are they not the one who decides to not let the actions of others control how they feel? It certainly is not saying that the other person is justified in the wrong that they have done. That is not characteristic of the way God forgives us. God does not excuse our wrongdoing, He pardons it.

From the human perspective, it may indeed seem that we are entitled to withhold forgiveness. As Christians, however, we are commanded by God to forgive those who sin against us, so that our sins may be forgiven.

The next post in this series will deal with finding the grace to forgive.


16 responses to “Obstacles to Forgiving

  1. Hey Gordon,

    Great writing.

    I just wrote about forgiveness last month. (If you want to check it out, I can give you the link).

    Also, what you’re writing about complements very well to my last post from a slightly different perspective.

    Take care,


  2. Thanks, Matthew. Haven’t seen you around in a while. Welcome back.

    Dennis–sure, sned me the link.

  3. Gordon,

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. I appreciate your thoughts.

    Here is my post regarding forgiveness:



  4. You know what’s funny (not haha funny) about bitterness? It creeps up on you, and takes over your life, and getting into a state of bitterness is just not fun. What a terrible way to live, especially for a Christian! In some sense Joy would be the opposite of bitterness – we know that as Christians this is what we are to be filled with, as opposed to bitterness. I suppose this is part of the reason that we must forgive.

  5. Thanks Den.

    Rob, you are exactly right.

  6. Good Points,

    Forgiveness is crucial to the life of the believer. We need it, and we need to give it.

    Looking forward to more,


  7. I was going to wait till the last post of this series to comment but I thought I would at least say I’m reading and enjoying them.

  8. Great post! I don’t see anything productive in bitterness…it takes too much time and energy to maintain! LOL

  9. Great subject. I will be reading because I need to understand this subject better, as we all do.

  10. Bitterness often results when we think we have certain “rights” that we see as having been violated.

    As Christians, we are to relinquish all of our rights to Him.

    But that’s tough.

  11. Gordon, great reading. “You don’t know what he/she did to me. I can’t forgive that.” That has been what I have heard a few times.
    My answer for that is.
    Jesus forgave your sin. Look what we did to Him. He did not deserve that, and He still forgives us. Do we know what we did to Him. The question should be “How could He forgive me?”

  12. TA, someone told me that very thing last week. “If you knew what they did, you would understand why I can’t forgive them.”

    In the next post, I hope to show how Calvary can give us the power to forgive anything.

  13. Very good post and true thoughts. I work on this in my own life – it’s easier said than done, but you are so right about the results.

  14. Amen! Forgiveness is a powerful thing…Someone once told me that
    “forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that just crushed it”…I have truly enjoyed your blog..will visit again.

    In,through and to HIM…

  15. Dionna–God’s grace is sufficient.

    Deborha–that is a great quote. Thanks for stopping by.

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