What Does The Bible Say About Unforgiveness

Definition Of Unforgiveness

The Bible gives us a definition of unforgiveness. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” This passage tells us that unforgiveness is constantly holding onto grudges and not forgiving someone who has wronged us.

Why Unforgiveness Is A Problem

The issue of unforgiveness is a problem because, according to the Bible, it damages relationships. In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus says, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Here Jesus implies that if we do not forgive someone then we cannot reconcile with them. This shows us that unforgiveness can prevent us from being reconciled with those who we have wronged.

Consequences Of Not Forgiving

In addition to the damage that it does to relationships, unforgiveness can have serious consequences on our spirit, and it can even lead to a separation from God. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Here, Jesus makes it clear that if we do not forgive others, then God will not forgive us. This is an important reminder that we must forgive others if we want to receive forgiveness from God.

The Source Of Unforgiveness

In terms of where unforgiveness comes from, the Bible offers some insight. In Mark 3:21-22, Jesus explains that it comes from our own hearts. He says, “And when His friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on Him: for they said, He is beside himself. And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.” Here, Jesus explains that our own hearts can be the source of unforgiveness and can lead us away from those we should be reconciled with.

Dealing With Unforgiveness

The Bible also offers advice on how to deal with unforgiveness. In Matthew 18:35 Jesus says, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Here Jesus tells us that we must forgive from our hearts if we want to be reconciled with those we have wronged. He also reminds us to be patient and to believe in the power of forgiveness.

Forgiveness As A Gift

The Bible also offers us the perspective that forgiveness is a gift from God. In Matthew 18:21-22 Jesus says, “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” Here Jesus tells us that God can provide us with the gift of forgiveness and that we should use it to reconcile with those we have hurt. This reminds us that forgiveness is a powerful force that can help us overcome our own grudges and be reconciled with those we have wronged.


In conclusion, the Bible teaches us that unforgiveness is a problem that damages relationships and can lead to a separation from God. It tells us that the source of unforgiveness is our own hearts and that we must forgive from our hearts if we want to be reconciled with those we have wronged. Finally, it reminds us that God can provide us with the gift of forgiveness, and we should use it to reconcile with those we have hurt.

God’s Mercy

The Bible encourages us to be particularly aware of God’s mercy, which is often invoked when we are in the act of forgiving. In Micah 7:18-19 it says, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.” Here, we are reminded that God is ever-loving and willing to forgive us when we extend mercy to others.

Fruits Of Forgiveness

The fruits of forgiveness can be tremendous. When we forgive wrongs, we are choosing peace and love over bitterness and resentment, which can often manifest in hurtful words and actions. As any theologian will tell us, these fruits reach beyond our relationship with those we forgive; they create a profound impact in our relationship with God. As it says in Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” Here, God reminds us of the importance of forgiving one another, as He forgave us.

Life Perspective Shift

When unforgiveness takes precedence, it can create a crippling effect in the life of a believer, illustrated by the oft-cited parable of the servant and debtors (Matthew 18:21-35). Jesus tells us that if we are unwilling to forgive our fellow man, we will be treated as unforgiving by God. This is a powerful reminder that if we want to be blessed, we must look to forgive as soon as possible.

The Nature Of Forgiveness

The reality of forgiveness is that no matter how long someone has wronged us, God’s standard for forgiveness remains the same. When we offer forgiveness, we show others and God that we have chosen to put our own desires aside and act in obedience to God. The Bible reminds us of this in Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Sacrificial Love

The Bible also offers us an important reminder that when it comes to forgiving others, love should be our highest priority. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This passage shows us that we should focus on loving others, even those who have wronged us, and that we should choose to forgive in spite of our hurt.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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