Forgiving and Forgetting
It was once said, "The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest." Perhaps no truer words have ever been spoken.
We've probably all heard and read the Lord's Prayer many times before. It's where Jesus modeled for us a simple but effective prayer that packs a wallop with so many dynamics. One of the lines in the middle of that prayer is one that may be one of the most difficult parts to pray because its implications
require some action on our part. The title of this blog probably gives it away. But for sake of clarity, I'm talking about the line that says, "...forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us." WOW! Pretty deep!
How difficult is that for you? For most of us, asking someone to forgive you is a cinch compared to actually forgiving someone else for what they have done to you. Nonetheless, it's not only a part of one of the most widely read prayers in history. It's actually a commandment. That is, if we want to be forgiven of our failings.
Yep. You heard me correctly. In fact, if you simply drop down a couple more verses past the Lord's Prayer you'll see what I'm referring to. In Matthew 6:14-15 states, "14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." YIKES! There's actually a reciprocal action required there. The long and short of it is, if we want to be forgiven of the (sometimes stupid) things we have done, we MUST forgive others.
Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to an equally important topic. And that is forgetting.
There are some who embrace the idea that in order to fully forgive a person, you must also forget the matter. It sounds like a pretty noble thing to do.
Even the bible has at least a couple verses, both in the Old and New Testaments, that suggest that God Himself actually forgets about our sins. One is Isaiah 43:25 and the other is Hebrews 10:17. They both clearly state that when God forgives us of sins, He blots the memory of those sins away. But actually, we've got to temper this with verses that also tell us God is omniscient (eg. He knows everything!). Verses like 1 John 3:20, Psalm 147:5 and Isaiah 55:9 tell us God knows everything.
Ya know, something like forgetting the fact that a particular person stole your wallet and then leaving it out on a table in full view of the person. Or how about forgetting the fact that a drunk driver who smashed into you and your family you now see being offered an alcoholic beverage and not say something?
Sure, these may be pretty extreme cases. But I purposely make them to clarify a point. That point is:
Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean you forget what has been done to you!
Perhaps one of the best examples of this might be in the case of a woman who has endured some type of abuse from her husband. Should she forgive him? Absolutely! Should she forget about the abuse that he has inflicted upon her? Emphatically, NO!!
Now, is there a place for forgetting some things others have done to you? Sure there is. If there is room for letting the memory of something go away, by all means, let it go. Wisdom teaches us, however, that memories can be one of the best sources of lessons learned.
So, to wrap this up, 1) ALWAYS forgive! In fact, be the first person to offer forgiveness. And, 2) Let the memory of an offense against be a great teacher but never let it drift into an area that obscures your ability to continue to forgive and love.
Live in peace!