It was never God’s plan for people to hurt one another, but our sinfulness changed all that. We do have choices. Choice, or the ability to use our personal will, is a gift from God, given so that we might also have the ability to love. Love is an act of the will. It can never be coerced; it is always a choice. So, for each of us, forgiveness is a choice—an opportunity to show God how much we love him. Sadly, many choose not to forgive, and in doing so, they open the proverbial Pandora’s Box that releases the curse that perpetually escorts unforgiveness where ever it goes.

Curse, what curse? Direct disobedience of God’s commandments opens a person up to the direct attack of the devil. Salvation destroys the chains of bondage, but when you refuse to forgive, thinking you will somehow get even, get justice, or see that other person hurt like you hurt, you re-forge the chains of a bondage called unforgiveness. You may think you have that person right where you want them, but you are the only person behind the eight ball of bondage.

Hurt quickly turns into anger, and anger turned inward becomes the poison of revenge, wrath, and murder that screams “I want justice! I want them to pay for what they’ve done to me! I want them to hurt like I hurt or feel the way I feel!—I! I! I! Something is terribly wrong when “I” becomes the center of one’s world and revenge becomes one’s supreme purpose for existence. The reality is that no one can feel precisely what you feel and no one will hurt in exactly the same way you are hurting. What you desperately desire in unforgiveness is therefore not even possible. Yet…you refuse to let it go. Can you feel the cold dead weight of those chains of unforgiveness as they envelope you in their hellish power? The curse has been loosed.

That seed of anger soon turns into a root of bitterness that will, in a short time, produce all kinds of toxic fruit in your spirit, soul, and body. According to the apostle Paul in Hebrews 12:15, this root of bitterness causes us to fall short of God’s grace, while defiling us at the same time. We step back under the curse of sin, rather than experience the full blessing of salvation. (No, we don’t lose our salvation, but neither do we enjoy its benefits.) That root spreads like a cancer sucking the life’s blood out a person throughout your heart and soul. And, whatever is in your heart comes forth in your life. The root soon becomes a fatal fruit tree producing the putrid fruit of death in your ability to love, to feel, to make right choices, to have intimacy, to build relationships, and to be a parent, a spouse, or a friend

The bitterness—that need to get even—produces a rot, whose venom is deadly to every part of your being. It paralyzes and pollutes your personality, your emotions, and turns you into something you were never designed to become. It’s like a super-charged staph infection running wild inside your body. Yet…on the outside you smile and act as though nothing is wrong.

That hidden wound in your soul and spirit coupled with your refusal to forgive (this refusal, by the way, is called sin) creates a darkness within you that has a specific smell that invites even more destructive forces into this scenario you call you.

Now the curse starts picking up both steam and speed. But…the worse is still yet to come.