What happens to you if you don’t forgive your neighbour?

There is so much hatred in our world and people can not forgive others. Thus, children can not forgive their parents, parents can not forgive their children, husbands can not forgive their wives, brothers are angry with each other for years, and we can go on with such kind of examples. The consequences are many and are grave in the lives of those who can not forgive their neighbour. In this article I want to present some consequences if one refuses to forgive, as we find them on the pages of the Holy Scriptures.

Be ready to forgive always

The Bible relates to us the following case:

Then Peter came and said to Him , “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…” (The Gospel of Matthew 18:21–22)(NASB)

Peter wanted to know the limit for forgiveness and the limit he himself set was “up to seven times”. He meant the same persons who sins against you for many times. The Lord Jesus used a figure of speech when He said: “up to seventy times seven” to show that we have to forgive unlimited times. If one can count seven times when someone sins against him, then no one will number 490 times when that person sins again. This was a deliberate hyperbole used by Jesus Christ to show that we have to be ready to forgive people that sinned against us every time they ask us to do this.

Forgive people as God forgave us

Apostle Paul writes so:

Just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Colossians 3:13)(NASB)

Our example of forgiveness is Jesus Christ, He forgave us all and totally, making us new persons. We also have to forgive others and if we look at how much people sinned against us compared to how much we have sinned against God, we will be ready to forgive our neighbour always. Here is what the Lord Jesus told Peter, after He told him that he had to forgive his neighbour “up to seventy times seven”, in other words unlimited…

For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. (so was right, because he was his slave…)So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. (The Gospel of Matthew 18:23–27)(NASB)

This man was forgiven a very great debt. Ten thousand talents are equal to 3,000,000,000 US $. His promises to repay everything was a total aberation, which he was repeating because of his great sorrow. Now, he experienced a forgiveness that he had never dreamt about. If he had experienced it, it was normally to expect that he would forgive anybody else in the same way. It should have been so, but…

Not all people who have received forgiveness can forgive others in the same way…

The Bible continues:

But that slave went out (from his master who had just forgiven him the debt…) and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ (The Gospel of Matthew 18:28)(NASB)

Maybe he thought that his fellow was the reason why he and all his family could have been sold… So, he still thought about his problems, instead of rejoicing at the forgivenes he had just received. The fact that he couldn’t break up with his past made him unable to forgive his debtor, because here is how it goes on:

So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed (The Gospel of Matthew 18:29–30)(NASB)

Can you imagine how this could happen? The friends of that man have asked themselves the same question…

If we don’t forgive the sins of our debtors, we annul God’s forgiveness for us

Here is what the Scriptures describe the end of this case:

So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart. (The Gospel of Matthew 18:31–35)(NASB)

Right after He told them the prayer “Our Father”, the one that all Christians have as a pattern, the Lord Jesus said:

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (The Gospel of Matthew 6:14–15)(NASB)

I know people who attend a church, consider themselves Christians and saved, but they have unsolved conflicts for years and they don’t partcipate in the Lord’s Supper, thinking that in this way they show fear for God. Those who really fear God forgive those who have sinned against them and conciliate.

Have you forgiven all people who sinned against you? Maybe they did many dirty and unrighteous things to you and it is very difficult to forgive them. But what means the forgiveness you have to give them compared to the forgiveness you have received from God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

Translated by Felicia Djugostran