Today’s question in our Summer What If Series is a hard one. But, if we learn to forgive, we learn to live free from resentment, anger, and bitterness.

Extending forgiveness is granting a pardon to our own soul.

The longer we try to hold him hostage by refusing to offer forgiveness, the longer we imprison ourselves with the the bars of his prison cell. Do not become an inmate serving the sentence of a crime committed by others. We hold the key to our own prison. It is the clemency of forgiveness.

Just like being selfish makes a person ungrateful, holding onto the right to be angry, hurt, and offended . . . ensures that we will remain angry, hurt and offended. We lock ourselves in the prison with the very perpetrator that caused the offense.

When we release those negative feelings, we are free to embrace new emotions such as: peace, joy and love.

It’s dangerous to be locked in a cell with unforgiveness. It’s a deadly cellmate.

The poets quote, To err is human, to forgive, divine (Alexander Pope)

But to err to forgive is a life sentence!

When someone unloads their problems on you in the form of hate, sin, anger, abuse, criticism, dysfunction, sin, (____ fill in the blank) — it’s like they just threw you in the slammer. Don’t get comfortable with that cellmate of unforgiveness.  Pull out the key and release yourself from that prison! Write your own pardon.

And if you need to remember how it feels to be forgiven, so that you can forgive, well, there is One who knows a bit about unjust imprisonment, unfair sentences, and undeserved punishment. Meet Him at the foot of the cross and let Him whisper these words with you, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)  You’ll be free in no time!

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