The concept of forgiving and forgetting comes from the fact that God forgives and forgets our sins... " and I will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12). God chooses to forgive us, and as he forgives he chooses to not "remember" our trespasses. And just as he forgives us he expects us to forgive each other also. “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21-22). Of course I don't think he means as literally as 490 times, so dont go keeping count of how many times you've had to forgive someone! I think He's saying forgive so much that it's impossible to even keep count.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13) So if we forgive as God forgives, aren't we also to "forget" as God does? So how does God forget?
I see it this way... God is all knowing, so he is not literally, so technically "forgetting" our sins. He knows everything. He knows absolutely everything we've ever done, right? So in knowing everything, how can He "forget" anything? We repent, He forgives and chooses not to "remember" (hold it against us) when it comes to blessing us and punishing us. Yes, He forgives us. But how He forgets is by not holding our every sins against us.
Forgiveness is an act of the will in which a person relinquishes the right to get even with their offender. It does not have anything to do with feeling that the person has been forgiven. It is a choice, an act of will, giving up the right to get even.
If someone asks to be forgiven, when saying "yes, I forgive you," all rights to get even or even to remind the offender of their previous offense, or to talk to others about it, are relinquished (unless talking about it is an act of love). Even if someone does not ask for forgiveness, God's command is to forgive (Mark 11:25). This means praying and handing over to God the "right" to get even, (as if we have these rights)...
Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you. (Proverbs 20:22)
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
Another misconception about forgiving is that "feeling like forgiving" is necessary for actually forgiving. There are good reasons for forgiving and none of them include feeling like it or wanting to or waiting until you're ready.
Reasons to forgive:
- God commands forgiveness when asked (Matt. 18:22) and even whenever the offense is remembered (Mark 11:25)
- God proclaims that He is the One who has a right to "get even" and promises that He will "square all accounts" (Rom. 12:19)
- refusing to be obedient to God's command to forgive results in a breakdown in fellowship with God (Matt. 6:15)
- God has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32), and we are commanded to follow His example and forgive others
- we have offended God more, and He has forgiven us more than others could offend us (Matt. 18:23-33)
- there is the danger of punishment (Heb. 12:6) if we will not forgive others (Matt. 18:34,35)
We all know I could go on for days but I'll spare you all... I just want to stress how important it is to forgive and how people should realize when you forgive someone, you're implying that the slate is clean. I am not telling you to be stupid and allow someone to continually mistreat or abuse you by forgetting. That's not what it meant with the statement forgive and forget... you're simply saying, "I accept that you wronged me and I will allow you to live on, unpunished without a constant reminder of your offense. I will love you and treat you as if it never happened!" (that's tough)
It is NOT simple to do (it will take prayer and obedience), but what is the point of telling someone you forgive then, only to remind them or their wrong over and over? What if God did that to us? God: "remember when you did this Tamika? I will treat you badly and not bless you because I have not yet forgiven you." Pretty harsh, right? Especially if we had to hear that from God... I dont not even want to imagine... forreals. Thank (God) He is so merciful and gracious. He is simply asking us (actually, commanding us) to extend some of His grace to others. God still gets upset and disappointed with us...OH but GOD!
The feeling of anger toward a forgiven person may, or may not, subside immediately upon forgiving them. Also, the feeling of anger may come back to a lesser degree from time to time; but eventually, the fact of forgiveness (should) overcome the fact of the offense, and the memory of the offense (should) lose its power to cause negative feelings.
Although I think I am mostly pretty good at this, I purpose to work on it anyway. I realize there are times (with certain folk) that I do hold a grudge and do not forgive and "forget". You will find that in forgiving people you are actually freeing yourself. I'm going to rename this statement since "forgive and forget" causes so much confusion. Task: forgive someone who has offended you. :)
"I love you and a healthy relationship with you (and obedience to God) is more important to me than holding an offense against you. I release you of responsibilty of your act and I relinquish the right to get even with you. I forgive you."
That's my peace for today! Remember to...
"Forgive and let live!" (officially renamed)