What I am about to say is not an exaggeration, nor is it a poetic flourish. This is something to live by daily and to absolutely never forget. This is the most important lesson I have ever learned (and am still learning).
The greatest pain and suffering, by far, that I have ever experienced, has come from unforgiveness, resentment, hatred, and unresolved anger.
Jesus was not kidding when He said that if you do not forgive others their sins against you that God will not forgive ~your~ sins, and that He will send the ~torturers~ against you. (The torturers are not men in black masks holding swords in dungeons, but depressing, despairing, painful, terrifying emotions and destructive effects in your life.)
This does not mean that a believer in Jesus is not saved if he does not forgive, but that he will receive the same kind of judgment and punishment and torment from God in his soul that he is giving to others in his mind.
Here are part of the verses of the story Jesus told, in Matthew 18:28-35:
But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
Forgiving others ~completely~ is the key that unlocks the door out of the worst mental and emotional prison there is. Not forgiving others their sins against you, ~no matter how painful and severe or evil or unjust those sins and abuses were~, is the most destructive force, no exaggeration, in anyone’s life, that I have ever seen. I can think of ten people I’ve known, right off the top of my head, whose lives seem ruled by, and ruined by: resentment, anger, hate and unforgiveness.
The anger that comes from not forgiving others (especially not forgiving those who have severely abused you ~or people like them~) can cause depression, inner chaos and painful thoughts and emotions, random angers, wanting to get rid of friends who do you wrong, suicidal thoughts, despair of life, general negativity, overeating, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, emotional pain and emptiness, relationship problems, domestic abuse, violence, stress!, health problems, spiritual problems; terrifying, excruciating emotional pain, and probably many other things.
One of the worst things about unforgiveness is that the pain and problems keep coming back if you forget this lesson and start hating and wanting revenge again (what you and I foolishly and sinfully call, “justice”). My opinion is that ~most~ people in therapists’ and psychiatrists’ offices are there because they do not have the emotional freedom that forgiveness could provide
~in a moment~.
(And forgiveness is a continually daily repeated thing, for new offenses, and for old offenses newly remembered.) It is easy to forget this lesson, and to start hating again. Lives are literally destroyed by unforgiveness.
Lives are healed and prospered by forgiveness.
Forgiveness is ~love~.
First Note: You do not have to stay around or in relationships with destructive or unloving people.
Second Note: Our hatred and vengeance is sinful, whereas God’s hatred and vengeance is pure and good, because it is ~righteous~ (holy) judgment against sin.
God dealt with all sin by having His Son tortured and killed on the cross, once for all, for the just payment and forgiveness of ~all~ sins of ~all~ people. Believe in Him and be forgiven of your sins, saved forever, given a new life, filled with His Spirit, and destined for Heaven–irrevocably and permanently.
Pray for and give gifts to those who hurt you, whom you forgive, as Jesus commands you to do. Give good for evil, not evil for evil. Overcome evil with good. We all need Jesus’ help and love and power and wisdom and comfort to forgive. Ask the Holy Spirit for help and for the ability to forgive. Forgiving must be 100% toward everyone, for everything they have ever done to you, and everything everyone continues to do to you, for you to really live