Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Forgive and Forget - Nadda Gonna Happen

Surely at some point in your life you heard the expression “just forgive and forget”. In my case the forgetting part is getting easier with each passing year, but that is more a function of age than maturity. The reality is that the deeper the hurt the less likely you will be able to forget. It has been said that elephants never forget, since most people I know are intellectually superior to elephants it is unlikely you will forget a painful experience.

First of all there is nowhere in God’s Word that you are told to “forgive and forget”, just forgive one another. It seems to be a common misconception that God forgets, after all He loves us unconditionally and He has forgiven His children for past, present and future transgressions. Think about that – okay long enough. Do you think it is remotely possible for the Creator of the Universe, the One who was in existence before the world began, the One who knows what will happen 10,000 years from now, can actually forget? I can hear Him saying “I think there was a sea that I parted but for the life of me I can’t remember when or where or what it was called.” Yeah right! Here’s the deal – God chooses to not remember our transgressions.

Forgiveness on the other hand is a must. Unless you are willing to forgive there is no chance to re-establish the relationship you would desire. Hebrews refers to the “root of bitterness” that grows up within you, that results from your unforgiving spirit. There are numerous studies that indicate that those who hold on to a grudge often experience negative physical and emotional problems.

So what does forgiveness look like? The Peacemaker Organization lays out four components of true forgiveness. It begins with a prayer, “Father in response to your love for me and in reliance on your grace, I desire to forgive name of offender. Specifically with your help Father I will
(1) Not dwell on the hurt /injustice that has been done to me
(2) Not bring up the incident and use it against the person
(3) Not talk to others about the incident
(4) Not allow the incident to adversely affect our future relationship”

If you are the offender you need to go to the Lord and repent. You must ask him for forgiveness for what you have done and ask His help in turning away from future such behaviors. This is not the forgiveness of salvation but a forgiveness that restores your relationship with Him. Then go to the individual you have offended and ask them to forgive you. Do not say “If I hurt you I am sorry.” The word “if” suggests that you may not have hurt them and in fact you are not convinced you really have anything to apologize for. You must be specific and ask for forgiveness. “Please forgive me for my harsh tone of voice and for what I said.”

The Book of Colossians reminds us that in spite of our sinful natures God has “made us alive together with Him, having forgiven all (our) trespasses.” (Col. 2:13) In addition because we are children of God we are to “bear with one another and forgive one another. (Col. 3:13)

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