Remember the much-desired “Get Out of Jail Free” card in the game Monopoly? When you’re stuck in jail, you can’t buy property on which to build houses and hotels, and ultimately you can’t win the game. So it pays to get released from jail.

Some of us need our own “Get Out of Jail Free” card when it comes to being locked up in a prison of bitterness and unforgiveness. It is simply impossible to experience God’s peace if we haven’t forgiven people who have hurt us.

Author Joanna Weaver points out that “hurt and disappointment left to fester will eventually become resentment. Resentment unchecked will harden into bitterness. And bitterness destroys. As someone once put it, ‘Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.’”

She goes on to say that refusing to forgive those who’ve wronged us means that we are playing “the role of judge, jury, and executioner. After a brief trial—one-sided, of course!—we march them down to the dark caverns of our hearts and lock them in the dungeon of our resentment. We slam the door shut and rattle it for good measure so they know just how imprisoned they are. Then we clip the key to our belt, pull up a chair, and settle in for a long wait.

“For you see, it is impossible to keep people jailed in unforgiveness without being enslaved to it ourselves,” she observes. “The sad part about all of this is that most of the people who’ve caused us pain are completely oblivious to the fact that they are imprisoned. They may never feel one lash of our inquisitor whip or lose any sleep tossing and turning on the straw mat we’ve laid for them on the cold, concrete floor of our heart. They won’t grow weak and pale from the constant diet of angry gruel and bitter mush. “But there’s a good chance we will.”[1]

What about you? If you’ve locked anyone into the dungeon of your resentment, open up the door by forgiving them, whether or not they’ve asked for pardon. Then walk on out to freedom, a spacious place where you can enjoy more of God’s peace.

 

Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and speaker. Her best-selling books include Praying the Names of God, Praying the Names of Jesus, Women of the Bible (coauthored with Jean Syswerda) and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (coauthored with Lois Tverberg). Visit her website at: annspangler.com


[1] Joanna Weaver, Having a Mary Spirit (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2006) 153, 155.

( Image courtesy of StockMonkeys.com at flickr.com)






Originally published February 21, 2013.