You’ve heard it before. “Forgive, but never forget.” This infamous phrase is ingrained in our thinking. Many of us don’t see a problem with it. It makes sense to us. Rightfully so. “Just because I forgave you doesn’t mean I’m not going to remember what you did. I don’t want to find myself in that same situation again. So, I’m going to remember.”
Disclaimer: If you find yourself in a toxic cycle or situation, use wisdom. Find out why you gravitate toward detrimental situations and stop the cycle. Moving on…
Well, I won’t keep you in suspense; there is in fact a problem with this notion of “forgiving but never forgetting.” In fact, it’s quite contradictory. To understand this, we have to first look at what forgiveness is and God’s standard for forgiveness.
To forgive is to (erase) a debt; to no longer make someone owe you for something they did wrong towards you. If you’re a college student or have ever been, you may be familiar with the term “forgiveness” as it relates to student loans. That’s the ONE place many of us would like to receive some forgiveness and forgetfulness! (Can I get an amen?! I just wish the spirit of forgetfulness would come upon the folks at FAFSA! Glory!) Moving on..
When you forgive someone, you are relinquishing (giving up) your rights and the need to “get them back” or “make them pay.” Refusal to forget what they did only keeps the offence (wrong doing) at the forefront of your mind and resurrects a desire for the debt to be paid. So, if not forgetting is anything, it’s at least unproductive. Now, let’s see what God does.
The Bible says that God forgives our sins and remembers them no more. “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). No one has ever been able to find where west or east ends. This is to say your sin can’t be found and it is no longer associated with you or how God will relate to and with you. Isaiah 43:15, it says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Another translation of the same verse says, “I–yes, I alone–will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”
When we look at the original text, written in Hebrew, the phrase, “will not remember your sins” also indicates that God will forgive the offence (which can be considered habitual sinfulness) and the penalty for it. This means God doesn’t just forgive the act, but the nature in the person that caused the act. It’s much deeper than we often think. If it’s habit, it’s a part of nature and God chooses to forgive the very thing (nature) that’s wrong in you. On top of that, (oh, I’m excited now), God removes the penalty or punishment for the sin.
One of the only reasons we remember offences is because we feel as if there has not yet been adequate payment for the wrong doing. Many times, we’ll look for small ways in which we can make them pay and ease our pain and pride. We do this by being petty, making small slights, digs, disses, and insults toward or about that person. This is unnecessary if you’ve truly forgiven them. Stop rehearsing what they did to hurt you. We rehearse so that we don’t forget. Refuse to rehearse the hurts and receive healing.
To forgive and refuse to forget is a reversal of the forgiveness process. This is why many of us find ourselves so internally conflicted. We’ll forgive but will choose to remember what they did. As I’ve said before, when you constantly remember what they did, you’ll find yourself demanding a payment for the offence; which immediately reverses the forgiveness you gave moments before. Essentially, the two (forgiveness and remembrance) can’t coexist.
Because God doesn’t remember our faults when He forgives, He can’t be conflicted about His forgiveness towards us. Forgiveness and remembrance can’t coexist right? It means that any time you mess up, God isn’t weighing in your previous sins or reconsidering whether or not you “deserve” to be forgiven. God is sure that He wants to forgive you; because if you’ve already accept Christ as your Savior and believe in Him, you’re forgiven.
To be honest, I had no intent on writing about forgiveness. Nevertheless, I found myself prompted by the Holy Spirit to write this blog. I hope this helps someone who is struggling to forgive.
One of the hardest parts about forgiving someone is this feeling of being taken advantage of, undervalued, and unappreciated. I want to encourage you with this. God sees you. God honors your decision to forgive and can help you in the process of healing from any aftermath. God honors your choice to forgive others by forgiving you. Yeshua (Jesus), while teaching His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13), said this, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” As Yeshua (Jesus) prayed this, He revealed that God understands and relates to the process and need for forgiveness. We’re not alone in this. Let it encourage you that God sees you and honors your choice to forgive.
Scriptures for further study: Matthew 5:23-24; Matthew 6:9-13; Psalm 103:2-14; Isaiah 43; Isaiah 53
I hope you enjoyed this. Please pass it along to someone you know who may need to read it.
Be sensible; be fools.
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