Forgiveness is just as important for the forgiver as it is for the forgiven, as forgiving each other frees our heart.
I once counseled a lady who was so chained by bitterness that, as I shared the freedom God had given me through forgiving others, she burst into uncontrollable sobbing as if a dam had burst inside her soul.
She completely identified with my experience of living in the prison of unforgiveness.
Then I shared with her why I believed she was feeling so chained.
Jesus told the story of the unforgiving servant. After the master had forgiven the man a fortune of debt, the same man refused to forgive his own servant for a very small debt.
Instead, the unforgiving servant choked the man and threw him in jail.
The master of the unforgiving servant said, “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”
Then the master delivered him to the jailers until he could pay all of his debt.
Jesus said, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:33-35).
When we refuse to forgive, we are allowing ourselves to be imprisoned.
In that wretched prison, we forfeit the freedom we find in God’s love.
How does this happen?
Jesus said, if “you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14).
Our failure to forgive each other exiles us from experiencing a close relationship with God. We are like the child of a great King who chooses to reside in a prison instead of the palace.
We don’t have to live this way. When we give forgiveness, we find freedom.