The Trap of Unforgiveness

by Drew Anderson

Everyday…I’m amazed at how crafty the Enemy of God is in his attempts to bring about the Christian’s destruction. It doesn’t matter if it’s discouragement, discontentment, doubt, fear, insecurity, worry, anxiety, or complacency, etc. Everyday…he’s setting new traps to remove followers of Christ from fulfilling the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

At some level, we all relate to these traps, but there’s something more to explore about his traps that relate less to how we feel and more to how we cultivate relationships with other Christians. Paul addresses–at the beginning of the second chapter of the book of Corinthians–one trap in particular that Satan is setting before the Christian…everyday.

It is a subtle trap. An ancient trap. It is a trap that many often fall into and nurse and keep falling into far too long and far too many times. It is a trap that holds its victim even when it begins to stink and fester. It is a trap that is so subtle and easily overlooked.

What trap are we referring to?

It is the trap of un-forgiveness.

At the beginning of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, he’s dealing with a difficult sin situation inside this church. In essence, a man was caught in sin, was finally removed from the congregation through discipline, but apparently was not welcomed back after his apparent confession and repentance. In other words, the church was failing to forgive this man who was apparently seeking to be restored. They were not forgiving him. Thus, Paul warned…

“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”
2 Corinthians 2:10-11

In other words, Paul told the church to forgive the repentant offender, which would reaffirm their love for him. However, the consequence of not doing so would give Satan an advantage. This would be nothing less than division among God’s people. And so, Paul warns against Satan’s subtle trap of un-forgiveness, and it echoes still today…

How Does This Apply To Everyday Life?

  1. Have you fallen into the trap of un-forgiveness?
    • Consider Jesus’ words to Peter: “Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”Matthew 18:21-22
  2. Have you stayed too long in the trap of un-forgiveness?
    • Consider Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:23-24
  3. Now, take some time to reflect on God’s forgiveness extended to you.
    • In so doing, apply the same measure of forgiveness you received from God to others.
    • What you’ll find yourself experiencing is a freedom of gospel-living and release from the trap of un-forgiveness. It may not be experienced right away, but give it time…stay in the Word…and let God move in and through you to others.

May God give us the grace to do so and more…until we see Him! Amen.


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