Have You Counted the Cost of Not Forgiving?

by | May 28, 2019 | Forgiveness | 18 comments

Fair is what comes to the state fairgrounds once a year,” a friend’s divorce attorney said. Many things in life don’t seem fair. And forgiveness is one of them.

If you forgive the person who owes you $30,000, money won’t magically appear to replace what’s lost. They spent your money, and you go without. That’s not fair.

If someone maligns your reputation, steals your business, your innocence, or your spouse, forgiving won’t restore these losses. That’s not fair. They did wrong, and you pay the price.

Some consequences can’t be retracted even if the perpetrator wants to undo what happened. So how do we satisfy our sense of justice and forgive when the wrong cost us so much?

We’re working our way through the process of forgiving by spelling FREEDOM. Last time we looked at the obstacle of Emotional pain. Today we tackle the second E in FREEDOM. Forgiveness is Expensive.

The High Cost of Forgiveness

Jesus illustrated the high cost of forgiveness in Matthew 18:23-35. A servant owed his king a huge debt he could never repay. When he heard that he, his wife, and his children were to be sold as slaves along with all he owned in order to pay what he owed, he fell on his knees and begged for mercy.

‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go” (Matt. 18:26-27).

The servant asked for more time. The king knew an extra 100 years at his salary would not make a dent in his debt. Yet he mercifully forgave the total debt knowing the cost.

What Our Sin Cost Jesus

The king in this story doesn’t represent us. He depicts God. We, like the servant, owe God a debt we can never repay. To forgive us cost God His only Son. Forgiveness is expensive.

Calculating the Cost

You may not see yourself as owing God much. You never intentionally hurt anyone like the person who wronged you. Let’s look at that.

If a distracted driver speeds through your neighborhood and narrowly misses your child, the driver momentarily steals your peace. But if the driver runs over your child, she’s stolen immeasurably more. The greater the loss—the greater the debt.

You and I will never go to hell because someone sinned against us. But Jesus suffered hell because of our sin. Christ paid for the sins committed by us and against us. Our sins cost Him much more than any person’s wrong will ever cost us.

It was expensive for God to forgive our sins. And it costs us to forgive another’s offense, but to not forgive costs more.

It was expensive for God to forgive our sins. And it costs us to forgive another’s offense, but to not forgive costs more. #forgiveness Share on X

Who Are the Tormentors?

After having his family rescued from a life of slavery, how would you expect this forgiven servant to act? This man stuns us by trying to collect the debts owed him. When the king heard how the one he’d forgiven had thrown his fellow servant into prison, he called him “wicked” and turned him over to the tormentors. It is evil for the one who has tasted grace to not forgive others in return.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’  In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed” (Matt. 18:32-34 NIV).

Anyone who has sheltered resentment knows its vicious lashes. Every time we see or think of the one who hurt us, we—not theysuffer. Bitterness torments the one who harbors it.

We Can Afford to Forgive!

Because Christ forgave our great debt we are debt-free. Collecting an apology, acknowledgment of wrong, or anything else won’t enrich us. Our King—not the person who wronged us—supplies everything we need.

If it feels unfair and expensive to forgive, consider the cost of unforgiveness. Is it fair not to forgive when we’ve been forgiven so much more?

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21 NIV).

Share your thoughts here.

Join us next week as we process forgiveness. It’s time to “Do it.



Find the first post in the forgiveness series here. Continue the series with How to Forgive: Let’s Do It!

Photo by timJ on Unsplash

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

Tea &Word Tuesday, #Kelly Balarie & Friends#Recharge Wednesday, #TuneinThursaday, #HeartEncouragment #Dance with Jesus, #FreshMarketFriday, #Grace&Truth, #Faith ‘n Friends

More From This Category

How to Forgive Yourself

How to Forgive Yourself

Do you have trouble forgiving yourself? My husband Larry talks about how to forgive yourself and shows why it is important. Here's Larry. We’ve heard, forgiveness is divine. Forgiveness removes the burden of guilt and relieves the hurt from being wronged. Yet, I find...

read more
How You Can Overcome Hate

How You Can Overcome Hate

"Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. Saturday afternoon my husband and I strolled down Fayetteville Street in Raleigh from the State Capitol Building to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. We stopped to get fresh juice on a side street...

read more
How Do I Love My Enemy?

How Do I Love My Enemy?

How do two porcupines hug? Very Carefully.  How do we love our enemies? With divine guidance and power. Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies. What did He mean? What does it look like to love your adversary?  We associate love with feelings. I love chocolate...

read more



  1. Horace Williams Jr.

    Amen, Debbie. May we always live with forgiveness in our hearts, remembering everything that Christ has forgiven us. Thank you for sharing this poignant reminder, sister. May God continue to bless you as you share the truths from His word. Be well.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Oh yes, Horace. “May we always live with forgiveness in our hearts, remembering everything that Christ has forgiven us.” Thank you, and may God bless you too!

  2. Ann Musico

    Debbie this was beautifully explained and expressed. We can never come close to what He did for us. Gratitude and humility should be our only thoughts! I know from experience that it is too expensive NOT to forgive and I’m not willing to pay that price when He already paid that debt.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Ann. I love how you said, “it is too expensive NOT to forgive and I’m not willing to pay that price when He already paid that debt.” Amen!

  3. Diana

    I can forgive and move on. But I’m cautious about trusting them again. Does this mean I haven’t really forgiven them. That’s the hard question

    • Debbie Wilson

      Diana, we’ll talk about that in a later post. No it doesn’t. Forgiveness and trust are two different issues. We are to forgive everyone, but we are not called to trust them.

  4. Susan

    Forgiveness is difficult but necessary. Thank you Debbie for this great series on forgiveness. Looking forward to the next piece!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Susan.

  5. J.D. Wininger

    Amen Ms. Debbie. I’ve learned through the years that I can never out-give God. The more I forgive, it seems the more He blesses me. Although sometimes it can be a difficult task to do.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, J.D. for sharing your experience with this tough topic. You are so right!

  6. Debra Jean

    It can be a hard truth at times, and it isn’t always an easy thing to do. However, with prayer and God’s help forgiveness for the greatest hurts is possible. Thanks for reminding us that there is a cost, either way.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Debra Jean, Thanks for adding to the discussion. Yes, there is a cost either way. Thankfully, Jesus helps us forgive!

  7. Barbara Latta

    You are so right. We will never know the true cost Jesus paid to forgive us. How can we withhold it from someone else even though we do because we see it through our humanness and not Gods eyes

    • Debbie Wilson

      Barbara, you’re right we need to remember what He did to have the right perspective in dealing with others. Thanks so much.

  8. Melissa Henderson

    The cost of not forgiving has caused me health concerns, spiritual worry and mental exhaustion. I have prayed and God has softened my heart. I am thankful for His mercy and forgiveness.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Melissa, thank you for reminding us of how much it cost when we don’t let go. And we do need God’s mercy and grace to let go of some hurts.

  9. Laurie

    Forgiveness is expensive, but Jesus showed us to to be generous when he gave his life for us. And the cost of not forgiving is usually even higher, in terms of mental and spiritual health. Thank you for a wonderful post, Debbie!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Laurie!

Refreshing Faith Blog

Pin It on Pinterest