I am sure you have heard of the long standing proverbial “forgive and forget”. As if forgiving wasn’t hard enough, someone had to go and tag on the “and forget” part. Well, fortunately for us Christians, we have a God to turn to that we can model our behaviors after, including forgiveness. And furthermore, we have His Word to turn to for heavenly wisdom instead of having to rely on earthly wisdom or ancient worldly sayings.
Scripture tells us in Psalms chapter 103, verse 22, that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” That’s a pretty long ways. Last time I checked, if you start in one place on the earth and move towards the east, technically you could keep walking east and never really hit “west”. And vice versa. That is an infinite amount of forgiveness. And that is the same kind of forgiveness that we should have towards others. In fact, Jesus addressed this very same issue to one of His disciples who was struggling with how many times he should forgive a person that sins against him.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Peter thought he was throwing out a liberal number by saying seven, but Jesus took it to a whole another level and essentially said to forgive as many times as it takes – infinite!
Let’s go even further. Not only is God “faithful and just to forgive us of our sins” as it says in 1 John 1:9, but He also forgets our sins.
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)
How awesome is that! When we confess our sins, God forgives them and no longer holds on to them in his memory against us!
Now, God is a perfect being with abilities and understanding way above our limited human capacities. And I am not fully convinced that we as humans are supposed to forget every sin that we do or is directed towards us. In fact, remembering your past, where you came from, and what God saved you from can sometimes help you in getting to where you are going or supposed to go. It can serve as a constant reminder and act as a motive for you to do the right things and become a better person. But, it is important to forget in the terms of not repeatedly holding a sin over someone’s head that you supposedly “forgave”. Once you set out in your heart to forgive them, do so and forget about that instance of sin! Do not hold it over them like a looming black cloud set to downpour at any given moment. God forgives and forgets our sins and it should be this way with us toward our offenders.
I leave you with the following verses:
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)
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)