Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Forgive AND Forget??

forgiveness jesus Pictures, Images and Photos

A grudge is a hard thing to forgive. Forgetting is a whole ‘nother story.

We’re surrounded by so many love-lacking people these days that it’s no wonder we’ve forgotten how to love, ourselves! Okay, maybe not love but… forget. We all know the rules about forgiveness: forgive as Jesus forgives (Colossians 3:13); forgive or you won’t be forgiven (John 20:23); forgive up to 490 times a day (Luke 17:4). But, who is able to forgive and forget?

It’s so easy to fall into that temptation of being the injured party and milking your wounds for all their worth. I’ve done it. I know people who’ve done it. I’ve been on the receiving end of that milking (translation: I caused the pain and needed the forgiveness). But, the higher road, is the one that is usually not taken. In fact, the world will tell you to avoid it at all costs. They will pet your peeve, milk your wound (notice that it doesn’t heal then?) and tell you that you must forgive but you are allowed to “never forget”.

Why let a dog bite your hand more than once? Why subject yourself to more pain?

But, I tell you, there is a better way.

Imagine this: Jesus is being beaten to death. In His agony and pain, when he could be blaming us for this undeserved punishment, He remains silent. After the soldiers, while mocking Him, hammer nails into His hands, He prays. For you. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Now, imagine this: Jesus is hanging on the cross, between two thieves. The people below Him are torn, some are weeping for him while the others are insulting, accusing and cheering. With His last ounce of strength, He lifts his head to look at those who have just crucified Him. “Father,” He pants “I forgive them. But, I will never forget what they have done to me.” Of course, the intentions behind a perfect memory are to bring it back up again- as a Ace card, cleverly hidden under the folds of His sleeve. Why else would He need to remember? Then, He dies.

It just doesn’t work, does it? Our Savior, perfect and full of grace, leaving just one little bit of bitterness in His heart so that He can remember exactly how vile, repulsive and diabolical we are. I don’t think so.

So, let’s back up to that first “rule”. Forgive as Jesus forgives. When He forgives, He removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). In my imagination, they just keep going and going and going… you get the idea. Like the defeated villain at the end of a movie: never to be heard from again. There is no grudge list in Jesus’ back pocket, no Ace tucked away for just the right moment. There is no condemnation in Christ, Jesus.

If we are to forgive as He forgives, then I think we are to forget, as well. I know this is easier said than done; I know that there is a pain which goes so deep, it takes time for forget and I know that there are some that are undeserving of a clean slate. Give it a chance, though and see the healing power that total, 100% forgiveness can effect.

My advice on forgetting: I’ve had a little practice.

Pray: Again. Easier said than done. When you feel yourself getting to that point of boiling over or are feeling the bitterness arise from an offense, just mutter a little prayer. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out two-hour lamentation (although, sometimes those are needed and requested of the Holy Spirit). Just a little, “Lord, please bless ____ today and help them discover the light of your love.” Or, “Lord, give me the strength to forgive and forget as You have done for me.” It works. I promise.

Think: of something else. It’s too easy to let the mind wander and imagine all sorts of tragedies that can befall an enemy. But, if you take control of your mind and the pity party it’s trying to throw, you won’t be so easily taken down.

Remember: Forgiving someone and forgetting their shortcomings will be a greater aid to them than reminding them of what they did wrong. Forgiveness and Forgetfulness bridges the gap between a man who refuses to change and the change needed to mend wounds. It will also help restore your own emotional and mental health.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. -Mahatma Gandhi

The moment that one sincerely and freely forgives another, something wonderful and good happens to both the forgiver and the forgiven. The capacity for both to love one another is increased and strengthened. -Arly Prior

Only the brave know how to forgive; it is the most refined and generous pitch of virtue human nature can arrive at. -Laurence Sterne


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