Forgive and Forget

"But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:15 NLT

If you still remember, you haven't forgiven.

After 17 years-19 if you count the dating part, Sarah called it quits. Walked out and left her husband and two kids. She couldn't explain why she did it, but she did. Maybe it was because she never wanted to be a preacher's wife in the first place. She had endured for 16 of their 17 years together. That seemed more than fair. Now the lifestyle was getting to her. She had wild oats to sow she'd never had a chance to sow before.

John, her husband, was bitter. He couldn't believe she would do what she had done. Leave it all. Everything they had built together. And leave him with the bills and the kids. He knew what the Bible said about forgiveness-and forgave her. Forgetting was another story. Occasionally, one of his church members would remind him if he didn't forget he hadn't forgiven. He wondered how you could consciously forget something.

The Bible-and Jesus particularly, has a lot to say about forgiveness. One thing it doesn't say is that I have to forget what others have done to me as a part of the forgiveness act. Forgiveness is releasing someone from a debt they owe because of a sin they have committed against me. Period. Forgetting is impossible unless I experience brain damage or contract a brain disease such as dementia or Alzheimer's.

What I can-and must, do is stop dwelling on the infraction. In my own power, I can't even accomplish this, but God's power in me can. John eventually moved beyond what Sarah had done to him and the family. He never forgot it because he couldn't, but he no longer sought revenge. Neither did he stew over the situation all the time.

I know I've forgiven when I don't dwell on the injury, when I'm not out for revenge, when I can interact with the person who has offended me if I have to, and when I don't get angry when I think about the injustice committed against me. I'll never forget others' wounds against me, but I can forgive and move on.

Stop trying to forget the infractions others have committed against you. Just forgive.

Martin Wiles Hodges, South Carolina, USA

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