Jesus told a story about a king who ordered a general audit of all his finances. They found that one of the servants had stolen\wasted billions. They were about to haul him off, when he threw himself on his face, and begged for mercy. And the king forgave him.
(Imagine someone stealing $5000 from you. Imagine it was someone you trusted. Now, because he asks you, you forgive him. You give up your rights to that $5000!)
Now the servant went off and found another servant, who owed him a much, much smaller sum. And when the second servant begged for forgiveness, the first servant refused and had the second servant thrown into prison.
The king heard about this, and he summoned the first servant. Since, the king forgave the first servant, he should have forgiven his fellow-servant. And the king imprisoned the servant and gave him over to torture.
Jesus finishes with a warning. Unless we forgive from our hearts, we will receive similar torment.
Most people who read this story interpret Jesus' warning as a statement about a person's eternal destiny. I have recently read a story, where there writer interprets Jesus' story differently.
(NOTE: I am writing here primarily to think through his rationale about this passage.)
The writer shares his story. He tells about his father, who was harsh, condemning and belittling. There was no physical abuse, but he grew with no sense of love, closeness or approval from his father. Eventually, as we all would probably, he closed his heart to his father.
He describes the effects of a closed heart, which we won't go into, but weren't good.
Then, he goes through a process of discovery about his father. He learned about his upbringing, the low opinion his family had, and his experience during WWII. He realized his father had no love to give him, because his father had never been loved!
It was recognizing his father's barrenness of life, to see with his father's eyes, that enabled him to forgive his father from the heart. And forgiveness released the hold his pain had on his heart.
When we live in unforgiveness, we have our hearts focused on the ones who offend us. We are, in reality, connected to the ones who sinned against us, and those sins. We were designed to be connected to our heavenly Father. If our heart is focused on our Father, we are filled with grace, love and healing. Unforgiveness blocks and disrupts the flow. So, we are cut off from our source of love, joy and peace.
The torment we will experience is not the torment of hell, but the torment of separation from the Father. We will live a barren existence, just like that man's father. We know the answer. We need to work our way through to the answer: see their hearts, forgive, renew a heart focus and connection to the Father, and receive his love.