Unforgiveness, the Paralyzing Choice

Gray Foshee

What hinders our relationship with God?

Matthew 6:14-15 says “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you”. It is impossible to have a deep relationship and community with our heavenly Father when we hold onto unforgiveness. Let’s look at a 5 step process of unforgiveness that leads from anger to murder. “Murder, you say”. Yes, murder can be found in our hearts when we allow unforgiveness to take root in us.


Ephesians 4:26a tells us to “be angry and sin not”. As we unpack this a little deeper we can first understand that anger in of itself is not a sin. What makes anger a sin? You remember in Matthew 21 that Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and He overturned the tables. What was Jesus able to do in the moment that kept Him from sinning while being angry?


Resentment can be described as a negative emotional reaction to being mistreated. Most cases involve an underlying sense of being mistreated or wronged by another person. A few common sources of resentment are: Feeling like an object of discrimination or prejudice; being publicly humiliated; being used or taken advantage of; not feeling appreciated. 


Hebrews 12:15 states “looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”. Wow! This is deep. Bitterness has the ability to germinate. Its seed is in anger and resentment. I often compare it to cancer. In most cases when cancer is in someone’s body it can spread quickly if not removed and treated. Bitterness is like cancer. It can kill you. It is poison for our soul. It’s important for us to understand the deadly traits of bitterness, how it can spread and defile others as well.


 Jesus was very outspoken and clear about hating others. He said multiple times that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. I John 4:20 is quoted, “If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” If most of us were asked if we hated someone we would probably respond “absolutely not”. But the truth is upon further examination, by the Holy Spirit, it is possible we do have one or more people that we hate. There’s so much shame as a believer in admitting we hate someone. But what about the fifth and final step of unforgiveness? It is even more grievous than hate.


Matthew 5:21-22a “You have heard that it was said of those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Once again Jesus is clearly explaining the heart of the Father as it refers to hatred and unforgiveness. If we have hatred in our heart we are guilty of it. If we could care less whether someone lives or dies, there’s a good possibility we have murder in our heart.

My Story

About 35 years ago I was on an accelerated path to pursue God and be like Him. The first 25 plus years of my life I lived for me and everyone who knew me knew that. But I had a God encounter that changed the trajectory of my life. While on this new journey and relationship with God, He revealed to me that I had a lot of unforgiveness in my heart. He also showed me I had hatred even to the point of murder. I was dumbfounded. At first I would not believe it. In my arrogance I told God, “well if I have hatred and murder in my heart, you will have to show me”. Show me He did. One by one God exposed areas in my heart where people had hurt me and I had held onto the resentment and bitterness.

I desperately wanted those people to make it right. I wanted them to put me back together. The problem with that philosophy is that they do not possess the power to do that. Only God can restore, redeem and put us back together. The very thing I didn’t want to happen was happening in my life. I did not want those people who hurt me to control me. But by not forgiving them, that’s exactly what I allowed them to do. 

My Repentance

My wife Shelly was one of the people I had unforgiveness towards. Till that point our marriage was badly broken. We both had done and said so many hurtful and harmful things to each other. But I knew if I wanted to have the relationship with God I desired I would need to forgive my wife. As we sat down and I asked her to forgive me for the resentment and bitterness I had in my heart towards her, the floodgates opened. We began to experience a freedom and peace we had never experienced before. 


Maybe you are someone like me who has had  lots of unforgiveness in your heart. Or maybe you have that one person who did or said awful things to you and you’ve never released them to God and forgave them. Forgiving is not forgetting! Jesus goes on in Matthew 5 verses 23-24 and tells us that if we bring a gift to the altar and remember our brother has something against us that we should go and reconcile with him and then return and offer our gift. Is there someone that you haven’t forgiven? It could be keeping you paralyzed spiritually.

II Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you”. 

Forgiveness is a choice. Choose today to forgive. 

Check out on podcast on this subject!

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