“I tell you, [forgive] not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:22
Just as we must act on Scripture’s instruction to forgive, we should also consider the great cost of failing to do so. Withholding forgiveness brings on bitterness, which Neal T. Anderson says is like “battery acid in the soul.” It leads to anger, resentment, depression, health problems, isolation, struggles with addictions, and more. It continues to haunt the person until he or she comes to terms with it. People who hang on to bitterness cause more pain to themselves than to the targets of their wrath.
A second cost is equally distressing. Jesus told a parable of an unmerciful servant who, after his master forgave him a large debt, demanded payment of a small debt from another servant. The master had the first servant thrown into jail and tortured. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you,” Jesus said, “unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).
For couples who want to follow God’s way for marriage and who hope for His best in their relationship, forgiveness is not just a suggestion. It is a spiritual commandment!
Dear Lord, You have spoken plainly about the consequences of withholding forgiveness. Help us to hear You and obey. May we please You and bless each other with our quickness to forgive at all times. Amen.