19 – Question 4

That term, “forgive and forget” is not found in the Bible.  It is a good thought, although not always possible.  First of all, we are to offer forgiveness to any who ask to be forgiven.  Luke 17:3-4 gives us this instruction, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”  The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and told them to forgive one among them that had sinned, but now had repented.  It says in 2 Corinthians 2:7, “So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”  As believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, we are able to forgive because we have been forgiven.  We learn in Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  We have the wonderful example of the Lord, Himself, who forgave us when we exercised faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, we are told to forgive others, no matter what the offence was, or how many times the offender asks us to forgive him.  Not only does the Lord tell us to do that, He gives us the ability to forgive others.  As I’ve said before, the Lord never asks us to do anything that He doesn’t empower us to do.

To forget the offence may be hard, even impossible to do.  If someone stole from you and told you he was sorry, you could forgive him, and in time, probably forget all about it.  However, if someone was to harm you and disfigure you, you would never be able to forget about that.  Every time you noticed the disfigurement, you would be reminded of the one that did that to you.  If someone killed a loved one, I’m sure you would never forget about it.  How could you?  You would have to completely forget the loved one to be able to forget the one that had killed him.

The Bible doesn’t tell us that the Lord ever forgets our sins.  He is perfect and does not ever forget anything that has ever happened, whether it’s good or bad.  However, the Bible does tell us that the Lord will not remember our sins.  David’s words to the Lord in Psalms 25:7 were this, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.”  The Lord, Himself said in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”  A familiar verse to many of us is Hebrews 10:17 which says, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

What’s the difference between forgetting and not remembering?  To forget is to lose all memory or recall of a certain incident or person.  To not remember, in this case, means to not bring it back to mind.  It also means that it will not be mentioned again.  The Lord does not dwell on our past sins.  He does not bring it up in His mind to dwell on them.  He does not mention them again.  While you cannot forget every offence that you have suffered, with the Lord’s help you can refuse to remember it again.  Do not bring it back up in your mind to dwell on.  If the thought does come to mind of a past offence, just refuse to dwell on it.  Think on other things.  In fact, we are told in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

I can remember a brother in the Lord from years ago.  At times, he would tell me some of the awful things that others had done to him.  He would go into detail about how he had been wronged.  He would always finish by saying, “But, I forgive them.”  I always suspected that he had not truly forgiven them because he so often brought it back up.  When we truly forgive someone, we should not dwell on the offence any longer, and certainly we should not keep talking about it.