What’s it to you to forgive someone? That’s the question I’ve been focusing on as I’ve talked about why you can’t afford not to forgive. There are so many benefits that you and I are promised when we are willing to forgive someone from our heart.

As I’ve pointed out, you can’t afford not to forgive because Jesus said if you don’t forgive others, he won’t forgive you.

You can’t afford not to forgive, because harboring unforgiveness is a fertile ground for bitterness to grow and do you great damage.

And you can’t afford not to forgive because you will miss the glory and grace that is promised in the Bible when we forgive.

Now, here’s reason number four: You need the freedom that comes through forgiveness.

When you harbor unforgiveness and bitterness starts to grow in your heart, it’s like drinking rat poison and then expecting the rat to die. The poison of your unforgiveness is keeping you a prisoner. You’re in a self-imposed prison which is painful.

Let me describe the kind of torture that besets when you refuse to forgive. That thing which has caused you so much pain gets re-lived and re-lived. Every time you think about it, you get the same awful feelings inside, the same knots in your stomach. Lack of forgiveness causes you to have to go through that pain time and again, and it keeps you from healing.

An unforgiving person is continually tortured with thoughts of revenge and hate. Your mind is never at rest. I can think of a friend of mine who refuses to forgive his ex-wife, and I can’t be with him for five minutes without him  somehow getting his digs in about her. He can’t get it out of his head—and he is tortured.

When you can forgive someone, it lightens that pain tremendously and the healing process begins. The bars of your own prison start to come down and you begin to live in new freedom—freedom you didn’t even realize you were missing until Jesus sets you free when you are able to forgive.

Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Forgiveness sets you free to enjoy the abundant life that Christ died to give you. Can you really keep on harboring unforgiveness and keep yourself locked in that prison?