Friday, June 11, 2010

Forgive and Forget

I'm struggling with this. You probably are too. I think it's a pretty common phenomenon, to not know how to let go of the hurt and the desire for repayment when someone sins against you.

A very lovely someone asked me how she should go about releasing someone their sin against her. She said she had forgiven them but she wasn't sure she could forget it. That's the thing about forgiveness though, you're supposed to forgive and then really forgive, and leave it in the past. It's not forgiveness if you're just tucking the pain or anger away in your memory and pulling it back up when you're wronged the next time, using it as a weapon, or to build your case against that person. It's only forgiveness if you can leave it completely in the past, and wipe clean the slate of the person who wronged you. I gave advice, the best I could, but then I started to think about how this concept applies to me and my life.

Are there debts I've claimed to forgive but haven't forgotten?

Are there people out there I haven't forgiven at all?

Am I carrying around bitterness and grudges?

You betcha!

Ephesians 4:32 states: 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Once again we're called to emulate Christ. He forgave, you forgive. That's the command.

This sentiment is repeated in Colossians 3:13:
13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Matthew 6:14-15 also states:
14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The Lord's prayer asks "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"

It's commonly understood among Christ followers, that in order to be forgiven by God, you must be willing to forgive everyone, and everything. It's a hefty calling.

Some people are easy to forgive. Some sins are easier to forgive. But we're not supposed to pick and choose.

What about forgiving those who've sinned against you, but don't think they have, what if they refuse to give you the satisfaction of admitted they did you wrong? That in my view, makes them all the more difficult to forgive, because my hurt feelings and my indignation have not been first validated and appeased. They're not asking for my forgiveness, so why should I give it? Because He says so, that's why.

There's this person I haven't forgiven. I'm not certain they know I the depths of which I feel they hurt me, and my family. I doubt they lay awake at night praying for me to forgive them. If they're aware of my indignation, they're unconcerned by it. Many times a day I plan out how I'd like to tell them how they've sinned against me. I'd like to tell them how they continue to negatively impact my life. I'd like to make them feel bad for what they've done and how they've changed my world. But then I think I'd be in the wrong. What purpose is served by bringing this person face to face with their sin and my pain? Selfish purposes. That's all. Sure, I'd have the temporary satisfaction of knowing that they knew all that they had done, maybe they'd even feel bad. But then what?

So, in light of the advice I gave today, I'm trying to apply it to this situation. And it's HARD! The conclusion I've come to, is that forgiveness doesn't just happen once, but over and over. Each time that hurt and anger tries to resurface, you have to remind yourself that you've forgiven it, and that you've moved on, and then do it. Forgive and mean it, then move on.

What's done is done, it's in the past. It's not right, but it's done. God's will was done none the less, and though things were changed and battered, nothing was truly broken. The sin against me was used in God's bigger plan to facilitate a change I wouldn't have made on my own. God worked it for our greater good, even though it may have been intended to bring us down. And though I struggle to do it, and I feel like I could choke on the words. I forgive them. And tomorrow I'll have to forgive them again, and the next day, until my mind can truly forget.

After all, Hebrews 8:12 implies that God himself forgives and then forgets:
12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

Who do you need to forgive?

What sins against you cause you to hold on to unforgiveness?

What sins can you forgive right now? What sins do you need to work towards forgiveness?

All the best to you in your attempts, I know it's not easy!



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