How often growing up did you hear a parent, family member, friend, or church leader say these words?
"forgive and forget - that's what we're supposed to do." How many times have you thought,"that's just not fair; sure I can work on forgiving, but how can I ever be expected to forget about what's been done?" You've been mad at your transgressors because of what they've done to you; you've been mad at God because you think He expects you to forget; you've been mad at yourself because you just can't forget about the pain you've gone through. There's something you need to know: "Forgive and forget" is not Biblical. Nope. It's not Biblically sound. Here's why:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not die, but have eternal life." - John 3:16
God forgives the wrongs we've done, but He doesn't forget about them. That's why it was necessary for Him to send Jesus, His Son, to die for us so that God can forget what we've done. God is ever present throughout time and space; this means that God is present with you right now as He is still present at the cross as Jesus is dying, feeling all the weight of the wrong things we've done and will do. When we do something that is wrong and goes against God, Jesus is paying for it at the same time. God sees Jesus' sacrifice at the cross always and chooses to see the price Jesus paid for us than to see the things we've done that are wrong. If God "forgave and forgot" our wrong-doings, there would be no point for Jesus.
What is Biblical: Forgive. I will put it this way:
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." - Matthew 6:14-15
"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." - Colossians 3:13
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." - Ephesians 4:31-32
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”" - Matthew 18:21-22
"If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him." - 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” - Matthew 5:23-24
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - Luke 6:37
All throughout Scripture, there are times where Jesus, the Disciples, and Paul have said to forgive. The way to know that you have truly forgiven someone is because you no longer dwell on the pain of what they've done. Certainly, you may still feel the pain, but you don't dwell on it (see Ephesians 4:31-32 above). Yes, there are people who do something to you time and time again! You get so fed up with it that you don't think it's worth it to forgive them anymore. Well, see Matthew 18:21-22 above. We are encouraged: if you have a problem with someone and you haven't forgiven them, then your fellowship with God is half-hearted. Before coming to God to ask Him to forgive you, actually work on your forgiveness of another, see Matthew 5:23-24 above. Nowhere in Scripture does it say to forget. Forgiving does not mean the action does not go without consequence. If we are designed in God's image, and God does not forget our sins without Jesus to cover them, we cannot be expected to forget about the past and any hurt fastened to it from other people. However, we can find comfort in knowing that who we are is not harnessed to the pain we have once felt. We may not be able to forget it, but we can forgive it. Forgiveness takes time; it doesn't happen overnight. It is not Biblical to forgive and forget. It is Biblical to forgive.
© Jessica Brazell 2014
© Jessica Brazell 2014