Do you feel held back in the area of forgiveness?
Are you worried that forgiveness would somehow condone the past or excuse a serious wrong done to you?
How can an abused wife forgive her husband or a child victim offer forgiveness to their molester? Even if a person’s forgiveness is deep and all the hard work of healing done, can it ever be forgotten? These are big questions that often leave us stuck on the forgiveness issue as we cling to our offenses, too scared to put them down.
Psalm 103:12 reads “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Hebrews 8:12 says: "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
God is able to forgive and forget our sins. Yet, when God forgives and forgets, He has the benefit of examining the heart. He can see the internal contrition that has led that person to repent. He knows if the person will mess up again or stay faithful to the changes they have made.
We don’t have this luxury. We don’t know if a person will hurt us again or if their commitment to do right by us is sincere. In this way, forgetting looks like a gamble.
Scripture stresses the importance of forgiving others. God commands it, so we can’t get out of it. Matthew 6:15 sternly warns us “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” A lot is at stake if we don’t forgive those who have wronged us.
Here’s the good news: There is no scripture saying “Forgive and forget”. Forgetting is not required. I would even be bold enough to say that forgetting isn’t always wise. God created our memory for a purpose.
To forgive a serious offender, you must choose in your heart to address all feelings of hate. Remove them through prayer. Forgiveness is challenging, but God is willing to walk beside you in the process. Forgiveness doesn’t erase the wrong done to you. Pretending it never happened will get you nowhere. Forgiveness is simply a heart decision to hold nothing against a person for the wrongs they committed against you.
Forgiveness doesn’t equal trust. There are some relationships that need to end and others that God may wish to restore. Seek His wisdom and move in it.
As you walk in forgiveness, be aware that the enemy would like to keep you bound to fear and anger. He hates forgiveness. He’ll seek to wind you up again. Don’t let him.
Sometimes you’ll have to remind yourself that you’ve forgiven. That’s okay. Just keep at it. Living forgiveness brings emotional and spiritual healing. It keeps you from destruction through the attacks the enemy has launched at you through human hands.
Prayer: Abba Father, I’m scared to forgive. I’ve built my anger into a safe spot, a wall for me to hide behind. Help me to walk out the forgiveness process. Teach me to look to you as my refuge and not try to defend myself in my own power. Thank you for my memories, the good, the bad and the ugly. They have served as warnings in the past. Thank you for the wisdom you give me through your Holy Spirit. Help me to know if forgetting is wise. Help me to know what forgiveness should look like in my situation. Expose any areas where bitterness hides so that I can address it and be free. Teach me to love the unlovable. Give me a heart for those who have hurt me and help me to walk out forgiveness by faith not feeling. Amen.
Truth: Forgiveness is a crucial part of your faith. God instructs us to forgive and warns us of real penalties when we choose to withhold it. Proceeding with caution does not imply an incomplete forgiveness. Forgiveness does not equal trust. God will give you wisdom on how to proceed (whether to heal a relationship or let it go). Your only responsibility is to forgive.
*This devotional originally appeared in My Journey of Faith's Day by Day Devotions.