A prison is defined as a place of captivity – a position of confinement or restraint, be it physical or mental. The worst ‘prisons’ are the mental ones we create for ourselves. They can be the hardest from which to escape. When we don’t forgive other people’s trespasses against us (either real or alleged), we incarcerate ourselves in hatred and thoughts of revenge. We are locked away in bitterness as we refuse to forgive and move on, waiting until the wrong-doer either apologizes or compensates. But if the offender does neither and is let off scot-free, we are the ones imprisoned and we can remain in our self-imposed prison of resentment for the rest of our life. (Matthew 5:24-26)
When God asks us to forgive the debts of offenders, it is primarily for our own benefit. God does not want to see us trapped in a prison of our own making. The only way for us to escape is to forgive as God forgives us. Only when we are ‘free’ from our self-imposed prisons of bitterness and hatred can we find ‘peace of mind’. Then, once liberated, we are in a position to help set others ‘free’.
Be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ. Ephesians 4:32 CEV