Forgive and Forget?
Hardly. It’s difficult to get past the pain and trauma that occurs when someone hurts you. It’s something that each one of us has experienced, and it shapes our view of the world.
When we experience pain, our defense mechanisms kick in. Everyone responds differently when they have been hurt, but most often the response is proportional to the painful experience. It is manifested in both emotional and even physical responses, where the physical ailments are often the result of prolonged emotional difficulties.
The response in kind to the stimuli of pain and trauma experienced is similar to that of Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.  While the response may be equal to what a person has done to you, it is how you respond and manage this pain that is very important as you seek the Lord for ways to cope with your experience.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Pain makes it hard to forget the hurts. It’s hard to let go of the wrongs that you have experienced. It makes it difficult to conceive the nature of “forgive and forget.”
First, we need to note that forgive and forget is not found in Scripture. It is a term that comes out of a world view that proclaims a person can indeed forget the hurt upon forgiveness and move on. There are many verses that discuss forgiveness, and there is a reference to how God sees our sin once a person repents of it:
Isaiah 43:25 HCSB
It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.
The concept of forgive and forget means to suck it up and move on with your life. Sure, you got hurt or you’ve been damaged, but now it’s time to let it go and face the next life challenge. The reality of this is that we never truly forget. We may indeed forgive, but we never forget. In fact, remembering the hurts can help you put the healing process into perspective.
With that in mind, does God truly “remember your sins no more,” or “forget” them as if they never happened? Well, if we consider the passage of Isaiah 43:25, we need to also note that Jesus Christ made a one-time payment that covered all of mankind’s sins–past, present and future.
Hebrews 10:14-18 ESV
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
God does not forget in the same way that we forget—He doesn’t forget anything. He is omniscient. He knows everything and forgets nothing, but, in the case of our sin, because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, He chooses to not remember our sin. He even provides a visual measuring distance as to how far He removes sin from each of us:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His faithful love
toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed
our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
Note that God’s choice to not remember our sins reflects His love for each one of us and how he has patience and compassion for His children. In order to experience true forgiveness, on either side, there must be love, compassion and humility within the process.
So, when we use the words forgive and forget, we must rely upon the power of God to give grace in forgiveness. True forgiveness is to move past the pain. While you don’t forget the sin or its behaviors, you have to choose to overlook them and extend the grace of forgiveness to the other person to move through and out of our pain. Knowing that Christ forgives us and remembers our sins no more is a reminder that grace does not need to stop with Christ. He gives you the ability to forgive and, not forget, but to choose to remember the other person’s sins no more.
But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
This leads to the discussion about where forgiveness begins. True forgiveness comes with the understanding that it’s time to get right with God. It doesn’t matter if you are on the giving or receiving end of forgiveness. Your relationship with God requires a cleansing. In order for you to love God with all of your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), you need to give all of who you are and what you are to Him.
1 Article – Newton’s Law of Motion. (n.d.). From Wikipedia. Retrieved March 25, 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_laws_of_motion#Newton.27s_3rd_Law
Copyright © Melvin Gaines