Archives for posts with tag: forgive and forget

Forgiving someone for an offense done against us is an unnatural act; remembering the offense is natural. Ironically, God asks us to do the unnatural and forgo the natural. Forgiving does not require forgetting, no matter what people tell you.

But doesn’t God forgive and forget our sins? What about the following passages?

Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Hebrews 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”  

Now I want you to notice carefully that none of these passages  or others like them actually say that God forgets our sins. What they say is that He does not remember them. “Oh, come on,” some might say, “You are splitting hairs now.” I don’t think so.

Suppose you owe me a million dollars and I forgive your debt. Suppose further that in order for me to forgive your debt I had to literally impoverish myself. Do you think I would simply erase the memory of my loss from my mind? I doubt it. Every time one of my children reminded me that she can only purchase one pair of shoes every twelve months, I would tend to think of the million dollars I used to have. But because I decided to forgive the debt, I choose to let go of that memory.

Remembering things is human. In fact, remembering might even be healthy in some situations. We must confront our “ghosts of Christmas past” in order to move forward to a more hopeful future. The problem only comes if we allow memories of our past experiences to plague us or paralyze us through fear, resentment or anger. Having a bad memory is not the problem. Nurturing or massaging one is.

The reason God can choose not to remember our offense is that He also became poor in order to forgive. In Christ God became a man and suffered like mortals do. He was despised, rejected, spit upon, ridiculed, paraded around as the picture of defeat. But instead of retaliating, He forgave the offense. Instead of crushing His offenders, He walked humbly as a lamb to the slaughter house. Peter speaks of this when he says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23).

But now that Christ is in heaven robed in glory, when God looks at our offenses, even though He is well aware of them, He chooses not to remember them because He is looking at us through the screen of His Messiah, who impoverished Himself so we could be forgiven of all our sins – past, present, and future. That is the reason God is justified not to remember.

Now the enemy will try to trip you up here. He will ambush you with a flash back of some wrong done to you in the past. You should not worry about that. Our brains are incredible computers capable of storing millions of bites of information per second. Remembering something that happened to you 20 years ago is frankly a sign of being human. Don’t fret, don’t get down on yourself, don’t retaliate. Only forgive.

God, in His infinite power, may choose to wipe out entire chunks of bad memories from our hard drive. If He does it, rejoice, for He is able. But if you happen to have a flash back, make sure you leave it where it belongs – in the past, not in the present.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

70 x 7

You have heard about “the weaker brother” concept from Paul’s writings. These are people whose sensitivity to certain things is so heightened that you have to be careful around them less you should injure their faith.

But some people take that concept to extremes. I call them “professional” weaker brothers, i.e. people who live to find occasion to get offended. They are the ones who have never been freed from legalism and think they must share the misery of that “jail” with everybody else.

To a brother or sister who is genuinely struggling with certain behaviors that you think Christ has given you the liberty to engage in, I say do everything you can to not build a road block to their growth in Christ. To the “professional” weaker brother, I say, gently but firmly challenge him to recognize his erring ways.

The same is true for those I call the “professional” forgiveness seekers, i.e. people who hide behind the 70X7 passage to excuse sinful behavior. Forgiveness does not mean acceptance of bad behavior. Forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation. Forgiveness does not mean someone gets permission to live outside the law, whether God’s or man’s law.

To be sure, you should always extend forgiveness whether the person asks for it or not, meaning you free yourself and the other person from the possibility of retaliating against him/her. But that does not mean that there may not be divine or judicial consequences for someone’s evil acts.

David was forgiven for his despicable behavior toward Bathsheeba and his murderous actions against her husband, but the child conceived through that relationship still died. Later, he was barred from building God’s temple because he had shed too much blood.

There are child abusers who have the audacity to ask for forgiveness and turn right around to repeat the behavior. They need to be reported to the police and put away for the rest of their lives. The husbands (and even a small minority of wives) who abuse their spouses physically, emotionally and verbally and expect a passionate kiss later in the evening after they say they are sorry for what they did, need to be forgiven, yes, but they also need to deal with the consequences of their despicable behavior.

Jesus asks you to forgive even the worst of them, but He does not require for you to go running back again and again into the arms of your abuser. Forgiveness is not a passport to victimization. Forgiveness should lead to conviction and changed behavior. Otherwise, it’s just a toy in the hand of our adversary to rob us of the light of Jesus Christ and the full life God desires for us to have.

Only you can determine whether you are in front of a habitual, manipulative, forgiveness seeker. But if you, with God’s help and advice of others, determine that you are, be quick to forgive but protect your soul from further abuse. Forgiveness is a gift from God that should lead to repentance, not a theological excuse to keep on sinning.

Blessings to all,

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA