“I’ll forgive you but I’ll NEVER forget!”
Ever heard this before?
Ever said this before? I mean probably not out loud but more in your heart or under your breath? Forgiveness is hard…(the sheer number of you who may have just contemplated stopping reading this blog all together could possibly demonstrate just how difficult this topic is!)
We don’t like the topic of forgiveness.
When we’ve been wronged by someone or worse yet REPEATEDLY wronged by someone it can be particularly difficult to walk in a steady state of forgiveness. I t can even seem that the forgiver gets “the short end of the stick” in the deal!
Well uttering the same words, “Okay I’ll forgive you but I won’t forget!” I was reminded, “but God does!” (Oh how much I love to be corrected with truth when I simply want to feel justified in my anger and self- pity!!)
Again on a separate occasion I found myself thinking this, “You know when someone hurts you repeatedly, you learn to keep a safe distance from them!” And again, this thought, “God doesn’t keep His distance from us even though we fail Him continually” Ugh…true.
God Himself sets up such a standard of forgiveness it wipes out all the excuses we may conjure up to justify our hard heart and protectiveness. So is that it then? We just have to forgive? I mean scripture says if we do not forgive others our Heavenly Father will not forgive us! To find the answer to this I think we have to look deeper into some possible reasons why God forgives. I mean who on earth with His power would put up with us this long? We have to look at the benefits of forgiveness and yes there are some:)
Let’s face it without forgiveness all of our relationships will be impossible to keep and maintain long term. Whether at work, at home, with children, with siblings, spouses etc. we need to learn how to forgive! The Amplified bible offers a description of forgiveness which depicts what happens when we actually forgive.
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it and let it go), in order that your Father who is in heaven may also forgive you your own failings and shortcomings and let them drop” (Mark 11:25)
The picture of forgiveness the bible paints is to actually “let” the offense “drop” or to let go of it! Humanistic thinking tells us we can forgive without forgetting an offence. (Whether or not that’s actually possible I’m not sure because if we are continually remembering an offence we are probably not walking free of its effect in our life!)
We see, however, in scripture God does not agree with forgiving and not forgetting;
“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” Heb.8:12
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” Ps.103:12
He makes a point of forgetting our offenses. Why?
To remember is to relive something.
In my experience, to remember what someone did often brings back all the feelings and emotions connected to the incident. It keeps it alive in me. Reliving an offence keeps a relationship in stalemate. No one can move forward, no forward process can be made and the potential for a relationship is lost. Forgiveness unlocks a situation making a turn-around and pleasing end result possible! Could you imagine if God had to relive every offence made to Him from the beginning of time until now? That would be unbearable! Instead, He decides to simply begin again.
Learning to forgive, let something go, and forget is to begin again with others and with ourselves. It’s this new start that brings life back into dead dreams and visions for broken relationships. Beginning again makes relationship possible. Since love "keeps no record of wrong" we must rely on its fruit in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit within us to be able to overcome the hurts we face.
Another benefit of true forgiveness is actually that it brings freedom both for us and the one we are forgiving. Anytime we let go of something that weighs us down we feel lighter don’t we? We feel free. For instance say you were carrying a back pack that was far too heavy for you so much so you were unable to stand up underneath the weight of it. Forgiveness is like taking off that back pack which will enable you to stand up, possibly for the first time since you’ve been carrying it, and walk with greater freedom. Forgiveness is a humble act in which we let go of an offence and also remove it from the back of another. We remove from our relationships the Devil’s playground of bitterness, deceit and destruction which un-forgiveness opens the door to. We remove from ourselves the painful blows afflicted upon us by the actions of others.
God did not give the command to forgive without any recognition of what we would have to endure in order to fulfill it.
He knows full well what it’s like to forgive.
Though there is wisdom and I’m certainly not advocating taking abuse of any kind or the blind acceptance of untrustworthy individuals back into every area of our lives. There are sometimes necessary boundaries to be set. Even the bible advises us to watch what kind of “fruit” or actions people produce (Matt.7:16) and use wisdom in our dealings with others.
God gave the command to forgive for our own good! He wants us to experience the life and freedom He does in forgiving us of all our iniquity. He wants us to experience the restoration of relationships we never thought possible! Although this is not always instantaneous and I have worked through the process of forgiveness for sometimes months at a time, sometimes years! I desire for it to get quicker though! I do not experience tardiness on my Father’s part when I ask Him to forgive me ( 1 John 1:9). I want His way in me on this topic. To forgive is to forget and begin again. In doing so, I will experience the fullness of true freedom and real love on earth as it is in Heaven.
I pray if you are working through an offence today you will hear the Father’s heart who is FOR you in this! His command to forgive was truly given with your best outcome in mind. It is in forgiving we get to experience a deeper aspect of His character. There is immeasurable grace in Him to get through this. God is love. He loves you and will not forsake you in your time of need! Strength and love are readily available as we courageously move forward into the freedom that comes from true forgiveness.