Forgive and Forget?1
I have a question…is “forgive and forget” a principle from the Bible? It all depends on how you define the word “forget!”
If you think forgetting means to somehow erase the memory and pain of an offense, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Your mind is not equipped with a delete button. God did not create you with the ability to erase memories. The closest thing to erasing memories is repressing them…and we know how unhealthy that is!
In one of his letters to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote that
Love…keeps no record of being wronged.
– 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)
Notice he didn’t say “forget about being wronged.” He said “don’t keep a record.” There’s a big difference between refusing to keep a record of something, and pretending it never happened. God never intended for us to blindly ignore offenses. That usually leads to more hurt and pain for everyone involved!
Let’s suppose a good friend betrayed you. It’s important to forgive them. By that, I mean you release them from the responsibility of repaying you for the wrong.
But then the friend betrays you again…and again. Should you go back to the way things were before the offenses occurred? Are you to simply ignore what’s occurred? Can you even do that?
I don’t think that’s what God intended. When something like this happens, it’s probably time to change the dynamics of your relationship.
Instead of thinking “I need to forget,” how about thinking “I need to heal.” It’s not as catchy, but it’s more in line with the way you were created.
When you have an open wound, your body immediately goes into healing mode. Recovery can take days, even weeks, depending on the severity of the wound. You might even need outside care to get better.
Our souls are like that. Offenses cause open wounds inside us. Those wounds start to heal when we forgive. Given enough time, many wounds heal completely without a trace. But others are too deep. Even after the wound has closed there’s a scar.
I have some physical scars on my body. And, I have some emotional scars on my heart. Some happened over 20 years ago. God uses those scars for my good. They remind me of his faithfulness as I recovered.
I can honestly say I’m healed…but I haven’t forgotten. And I thank God for that.
God can use scars for your good, too! Have you “forgiven” an offense, but are still holding onto it in your mind and heart? It’s time to let that wound close completely! Let go and let God finish your recovery.