There are many verses in Scripture in which we are told that we are to forgive those who have hurt us or wronged us. As children of God, we are called to forgive because we have been forgiven by God through Christ's sacrifice on the cross (Ephesians 4:32). In Luke 6:37, Jesus tells us that, if we forgive, we will be forgiven.
The Bible gives us some great examples of forgiveness. Of course, there is the forgiveness that we receive from God through Jesus Christ. And Jesus Himself showed forgiveness for those who persecuted and crucified Him (Luke 23:34). In the Old Testament, forgiveness is demonstrated by Joseph. Despite having been beaten and sold into slavery by his brothers and, as a result, being separated from his father for many years, Joseph was moved to compassion when his brothers came to him in Egypt and he forgave them (Genesis 50:17).
We are to forgive because God requires it, but we should also forgive for another, personal reason. In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus tells the story of a servant who, after his master had forgiven him of his debt, was not willing to forgive the debt that a fellow servant owed to him. When the master learned of this, he became angry and had the unforgiving servant thrown into prison.
When we, who have been forgiven by God for our sins, choose not to forgive someone who has hurt or wronged us, we end up in a prison of unforgiveness. We become bound and shackled by bitterness and it just eats away at us. We are imprisoned by the very things that we are told to stay away from in Ephesians 4:31, things such as bitterness, anger, and wrath.
Are you imprisoned by unforgiveness toward someone? Are you bound and shackled by bitterness? If so, seek the help of our heavenly Father and ask Him to give you a heart of compassion. That is the key to unlock your chains and free you from the prison of unforgiveness.