One of the most beautiful examples of a forgiving spirit is found in the book of Genesis. Despite being the victim of jealousy, evil intentions, malicious plotting, and selfish disregard, Joseph had an attitude of forgiveness that is uncommon and hard for many of us to imagine. By responding in this way to new hurts, he demonstrated that he was a godly man who understood how to let go of resentment and grab hold of forgiveness.
If we refuse to forgive, we can expect to go through painful consequences:
We will have difficulty dealing with the wrong done to us. Instead of releasing it to the Lord, we’ll rehearse the offense and relive the pain.
Resentment will take root in our heart and mind, allowing bitterness to grow.
Negativity will begin to affect other areas of our life, such as relationships, emotions, attitudes, and even physical health.
Then feelings of discouragement will rob us of joy and contentment. We may look successful to the world, but deep inside, Christ’s peace is absent.
A buildup of ill feelings will start damaging our emotional health, which in turn hampers our ability to love others and accept love in return.
Eventually despair will set in. The inner turmoil may become so great that we might frantically resort to drugs, alcohol, affairs, pleasure, or excessive devotion to a career in an effort to find relief.
The good news is that this downward spiral can be stopped at any point along the way by choosing to forgive. If opening your heart proves difficult, accepting help from a Christian counselor or pastor could be valuable.