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Unforgiveness....What's it Costing You?

By Forgiveness Coach Sandra Cobb, July 2021

Holding unforgiveness in your heart has significant negative impact on your life. Far too often people decide not to forgive their offender in an attempt to get back at them. I believe you should consider all the ramifications or consequences of unforgiveness before making the decision to take that route. Yes, it is your decision, but first count the cost of that decision! Are you prepared for the negative impact of unforgiveness? What are you willing to give up to hold on to unforgiveness? It takes great effort to continually hold unforgiveness in your heart and there are both physical and spiritual consequences to bear.

Physical Consequences of Unforgiveness

People who have chosen not to forgive bear the weight of the effects of unforgiveness. I have witnessed that they often experience physical problems from what might be considered minor such as frequent headaches to larger issues like ulcers. Medical expert Charlotte van Oyen Witvliet at Hope College of Michigan links increased stress and cardiovascular problems to unforgiveness (Marsh, 2004). Through my research I’ve learned that stress from unforgiveness causes people to be at risk for life-threatening events such as high blood pressure, strokes and even heart attacks (Worthington, Jr., 2013).

These ailments brought on by the emotional state of unforgiveness can also impact our immune system. Our immune system which serves to fight off infection within our bodies can be impaired causing it not to function to fight off physical diseases. Additionally, Dr. Worthington also states that when chronic unforgiveness is present, cortisol levels stay high affecting the physical systems of the body. Such as shrinking of the brain, digestion and circulation problems, as well as sexual drive and performance.

Spiritual Consequences of Unforgiveness

The Bible makes us aware of spiritual consequences of unforgiveness. Such as, it impacts the intimacy in our relationship with God. In our relationship with God, hopefully, we have spent significant time with Him getting to know Him. We communicate with Him through prayer. He hears us and we listen for Him to respond. From reading and interaction with God we have come to know the things that make Him happy. We also know the things that displease Him. God instructs us to forgive others as He has forgiven us; this pleases Him. Deciding not to forgive puts us out of the will of God.

God presents forgiveness as His instruction to us; not a wish. If we decide that we will not forgive, we are choosing to disobey. Being in a state of disobedience, impacts the intimacy of our relationship with God. Like other relationships we have, there are things that can be done to impair the intimacy; unforgiveness does that in our relationship with God. Can the intimacy be repaired? Yes, when we are truthful with God and ask Him to forgive us according to I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Another spiritual consequence of unforgiveness is that we cause the Holy Spirit to grieve within us. Holy Spirit is a person. When we disobey God, we cause the Holy Spirit to have heaviness, to be sad and sorrowful. How do I know this?

Ephesians 4:30-32 (AMP)

“30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked [branded as God’s own] for the day of redemption [the final deliverance from the consequences of sin]. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. 32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.”

Verse 31 tells us specifically how we grieve the Holy Spirit. By living with bitterness, wrath, anger, animosity, resentment, strife, slander, spitefulness and more of the like. Verse 32 tells us how the Holy Spirit is pleased which includes forgiving others readily and freely. When we grieve the Holy Spirit, we are not operating in the full capacity of power available to us. We need Holy Spirt to fully lead, guide and empower us daily.

Lastly, unforgiveness causes us to forfeit the right to be forgiven by God. After Jesus teaches His disciples to pray in Matthew 6, Jesus follows the prayer with an addendum in the next two verses:

Matthew 6:14, 15 (AMP)

“14 For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.”

If we forgive others our Father will forgive us. But, Jesus continues speaking and says that if you don’t forgive others, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us. If we are honest with ourselves, even when we put forth our best efforts, we miss the mark daily of living up to God’s standards. Because of this reality we don’t need anything in the way of us receiving God’s forgiveness on any given day! Don’t forfeit the right to be forgiven.

The Takeaway

Every decision we make has benefits and consequences. If you have decided that you will not forgive, keep in mind the consequences:

  • High blood pressure

  • Stroke risk

  • Increased risk for heart attacks

  • Impaired Immune System

  • Negative impact on your fellowship with God

  • Holy Spirit is grieved limiting spiritual power in your life

  • You forfeit the right to be forgiven

I hope this blog helps you to see that the consequences of unforgiveness are too costly to you! Are you bearing the consequences of unforgiveness? If so, contact me to schedule a complimentary 35-Minute Discovery Call:

I am your Forgiveness Coach Sandra Cobb. I help Christian women that have experienced traumatic hurt break free from unforgiveness through inner healing. “

How to connect with Forgiveness Coach Sandra Cobb:


BONUS video from my Forgiveness Misconceptions series: Act Like it Never Happened??


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