Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Forgive and Forget

Some say it is impossible to forgive and forget. Some say, "I will forgive you, but I will never forget it." Some say we are supposed to remember in order to learn some kind of lesson from whatever we have suffered, even if we have forgiven the one who has wronged us. Some say that unless you have tried to forget, you have never really forgiven.

This subject could be debated for a good while. I will first tell you that I have thought about the idea of "forgive and forget" for years. I have studied this issue for lessons, articles, and sermons. I have spent time in counseling with people who have suffered wrongs. I have spent no small amount time of trying to figure out, through God and Christ's example, exactly how we are to go about forgiving others. From this, I would like to offer a few observations.

1. People who have a hard time forgiving others do not like to talk about it. Whether it is an control issue, or a matter of the need to hold on to something, people who hold a grudge want to feel justified for doing so. If they let go of the animosity they have for the person who has caused them pain, they are taking a big risk. They feel safer to harbor their ill-will then to let it go and forgive.

2. People who do not have a hard time forgiving other people are sometimes considered weak. This is especially true when it comes to the non-forgiving crowd. The people who do not like to forgive feel that they are more shrewd then the forgivers. If there is a disadvantage to being a forgiving person, it is the possibility that you may be hurt over and over again by people who love to empower themselves.

3. The capacity one has to forgive is equivalent for the capacity one has to love. People who are not forgiving are missing out on one of the greatest facets of love. In some sense, they are shutting a part of the love of God out of their lives. Jesus said about the woman who washed his feet with her tears, "...her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little" (Luke 7:47).

4. We will forgive more when we daily contemplate how much God has forgiven us. His mercy and grace in spite of our sins should be on our minds always. If it is not, we will be judgmental, hard-hearted, and display the pride of fools.

Jesus was not only open to forgiveness, he mastered the art. He did not see it as a weakness, but a strength. It was not a risk, it was an opportunity. It was not a struggle for him, because of the capacity he had to love humanity.

"I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake." ~ 1 John 2:12


  1. Excellent article and likely to be one that I refer back to in the future. Thank you for your work.