As we journey the roadway of life, we encounter many people and circumstances. In the process, hurt and injury often take place. Hasty or hurting words, neglect, misunderstanding, untruth and other conflicts often are not settled, and thus remain as "open sores" in the inner person. This corruption of the inner man builds and sprouts into other complications. The resulting interactions with people divide friendships, cause splits in churches, and create hotbeds for anger, irritation and physical problems. Unless these situations are handled Biblically, we can sets ourselves up for arguments and a life of bondage and torment over an "unresolved conflict."
In Matthew 5:23-24 we have the directions on what we should do when we offend someone. If this is the case, we are go to the offended one, admit our wrong, seek forgiveness and begin to rebuild the relationship if possible. This is called "seeking forgiveness." Another aspect of forgiveness that goes along closely is "granting" forgiveness.
Granting forgiveness is releasing a person from an offense and agreeing to put the event out of our mind, heart and actions. These instructions are given in Matthew 18:21-35 as Jesus is teaching on the unforgiving servant. The picture painted by Jesus is a servant forgiven of all his debt but NOT willing to forgive his debtor. According to Jesus, the result of being unforgiving is to be "turned over to the tormentors."
Then notice verse thirty-five, "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses." That's right - turned over to the tormentors. The tormentors of today could very well be a bitter spirit, a polluted mind, a corrupted tongue of gossip, complaining and murmuring, loss of friends, broken relationships, etc. All because we choose NOT to FORGIVE another. The end result is to live in bondage and corruption of a soul filled with anger and resentment.
The benefits of forgiveness are many. Release of burden, relief from the burden, joy of being a clean instrument in God's hand, peace of heart and unity where there was disunity and trouble are all benefits of forgiveness. To be a clean vessel in God's hand, we must be in obedience to the Word and Spirit, which includes forgiving others.
To forgive we must be sensitive, sympathetic, understanding, patient and merciful as Jesus is in forgiving us. No conditions, no limits, no questions - just releasing the offense and agreeing to put the matter out of heart, mind and conversation is required. This sets us free to go on in obedience to God in other areas of life. Great burdens are lifted when forgiveness is practiced.
It is vital that we then "renew" our minds (Romans 12:2). This is the part of the process of taking out the bad and putting in the good. This is accomplished as we read, study, and meditate in and on the Word of God daily for spiritual nourishment and cleansing. It is in the power of God's Word, applied by the Spirit of God, where we find strength, grace and wisdom to overcome what was once a mountain in our lives.
Yes, the KEY TO FREEDOM is FORGIVENESS. Obeying God's direction in regards to my relationship with others.