“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14

There’s nothing quite like a good field trip! There are so many interesting and educational places to go! Perhaps, like me, you can remember some interesting places you visited as a child. For me, as crazy as it sounds, one of my favorite trips was to the police station. I remember walking around and seeing all the cool gadgets and gizmos that the police used, from the special fingerprinting ink to what real handcuffs looked like. Towards the end of the trip, our touring officer also took us to a jail cell. I was one of the ones who got picked to stand in the cell and see what it was like behind bars.

It was a pretty cool experience for a kid because it was just pretending. But to be behind bars for real would be terrifying! Yet you don’t have to be in one of Colorado’s 20 jails to live life behind bars; all you have to do is refuse to forgive.

So many people feel absolutely stuck in life, and often it is because they are harboring forgiveness in their heart towards someone who offended them. However, in order to make a new start, to forge a new path, or to turn the page to a new chapter, we have to embrace a posture of forgiveness.

Jesus admonished us to forgive those who have wronged us, just as He forgives us. But I also think sometimes we need to forgive ourselves for the wrong choices we have made and abuses we have committed against ourselves.

It’s important to note that we are not ignoring the offense when we forgive. What happened was real. The pain was real. The emotion was real. Don’t deny that. It is important to feel and process those feelings in a healthy way, such as talking to a counselor, friend, or even just journaling. However, when we forgive, what we are saying is that this sin is not being held against another. We are actually absorbing the offense, just like Christ did for us on the cross. The debt was paid because He paid it.

This week, take a moment to reflect on this song by Royal Tailor. As you do, write down the name of a person you need to forgive, or someone you need to seek forgiveness from. Make a plan on how you will resolve the issue, and then go get out of “jail” and be reconciled.

By Sheila Rennau