I remember....and I choose to forgive you anyway
I heard something on the radio that stuck with me. The DJs were talking about things people had posted to their FB page. One lady asked how she was supposed to forgive and forget. Said she had the forgive part, but could not understand how she was supposed to forget.
One of the DJs gave the following analogy....
"I have a large scar on my arm. It was a terrible cut. I remember the cut. I remember how I got it and I remember how much it hurt at the time. BUT (you could hear her slap her arm) even though I can SEE the scar and it reminds me of the cut, the SCAR does not hurt. When you forgive someone, it no longer causes you pain."
I can totally see that! There have been times when I have WANTED to forgive someone for something, knew i SHOULD forgive them, but every time something reminded me of the person or situation...it just hurt (anger hurts too). At that point I knew I had not forgiven, but was at a loss as to what to do to make myself "forgive and forget". The forget part seems to be the problem.
So, I did a little research.....
I can find lots of scripture that tells me to FORGIVE....
"Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."
Matthew 18:21-22 ESV
"“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;"
Luke 6:37 ESV
"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,"
Matthew 6:14 ESV
"Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
Colossians 3:13 ESV
"And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”"
Mark 11:25 ESV
"Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”"
Luke 17:3-4 ESV
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Ephesians 4:32 ESV
And I found scripture about GOD not remembering my sins....
Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. Hebrews 10:17
I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more Hebrews 8:12
Well....I'm not God and I can't find scripture that tells me to forget that someone wronged me. God's word just tells me to forgive them...all of them...for everything that they have done.
I wonder if this whole "Forgive and
Forget" thing is a tool of the Devil. Hear me out... If I believe that I have to FORGET something in order to forgive the person who did that something...well, that messes everything up because I cannot give myself amnesia. I cannot FORCE myself to forget. I don't have a delete button or backspace key. It is in the very nature of my brain to remember things.
The whole focus on forgetting also takes the focus off of the forgiving.
Would it not be SOOO much easier to "forgive" someone if you forgot what they did in the first place? Would it not be SOO much easier to just hit the delete button and REALLY not even know that someone had just ripped your heart to shreds?
IF we could forget, there would be no need for forgiveness.
So maybe then I MUST remember in order to truly forgive. Maybe the blessing of forgiveness is actually in the fact that I do remember. Go back to the story the DJ told that I mentioned in the beginning of this...
"The scar does not cause me any pain"
She did not forget how the scar got there, did not forget the pain of the injury, did not pretend like it wasn't there. It left a mark on her. Changed her. Hopefully taught her something. BUT THE SCAR DOESN'T HURT. The wound has healed.
Forgiveness is truly a gift. Totally in the control of the giver. I think that maybe there is greater power in forgiveness than there is in punishing someone by holding a grudge. Grudge holding is totally natural, expected, normal. Forgiveness is God-breathed, Biblical, and holy....
I found a quote that said "Forgiveness is giving up my right to hold a grudge".
I like that.
I also found something that said that forgiveness is treating the person as though they had done no wrong.
I like that too.....
Much better than "Forgive and forget".
Perhaps a better phrase would be "I remember and I choose to forgive you anyway"
Is there somone in your life that you need to forgive?
Are you holding on to a grudge that is causing you to be bitter and angry? (Bitter and angry people are not living the victorious life Jesus came to give.)
Are you willing to CHOOSE to forgive...to let that person off the hook...to treat them as if they have done you no wrong?
Father God, help me to forgive the ones who have hurt me, judeged me, and otherwise wronged me. Lord you know who they are. You know what they did. You know how I hurt and how angry it makes me. Help me to remember Lord that I too am a sinner and that I have hurt people. Help me Lord to extend the gift of forgiveness and remove the chains of bondage that are bitterness, anger, and hatred. Help me Lord to take this all important step toward living a victorious life.
Next month we will talk about a little more about forgiveness and why it is really okay to "let them off the hook".