Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 NIV)
There is a common fallacy promoted among Christians that lead to the destruction of the foundation of our faith in The Word. We are told to forgive, not to forget, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”(Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV).
What we mistake is God’s tossing our sins into the sea of forgetfulness and Him saying, He’ll remember our sins no more. We are not God and since we have no eternity for anyone, we cannot presume we are.
When we are told to forgive–we should forgive those who cause us harm, but if we forget–we put ourselves into the same position to be harmed all over again. That is not wisdom, and we are told repeatedly to exercise wisdom, once we have obtained it from on high.
One of the reasons the world is in the shape it is–our forgetfulness–we forget what God has said and has done for us and to those who have chosen to rebel against Him. And with each generation who forgets–tragedy falls upon the people. We see this with the reign of the kings who ruled over the Children of Israel–those who remembered what God has said and done for them–prospered; those who forgot caused calamity after calamity to fall upon the people. If we forget history events and learn nothing from them, we open the door for it to repeat itself. And it is usually the negative events that repeat themselves.
We are not to hold grudges against people when we forgive–that does not mean we forget. Jesus tells us to forgive–seventy times seven–He never says to forget. The seventy times seven does not mean we keep forgiving a person for doing the exact same thing. That is not wisdom and if we are to grow–become mature in The Word–we need to know how to rightly interpret what is said and understand the intent and purpose.
We can forgive a debt owed to us, but that doesn’t mean we should allow a person to become indebted to us again–knowing their history for ignoring their obligations. We can forgive someone who has abused us, but that doesn’t mean we stay in their presence–giving them opportunity to keep abusing us. We can and should forgive people–but we should never forget. “Wisdom is the principle thing” and without exercising wisdom, we never move forward and wonder why we are stuck in a rut.
I’m thankful that God is God and that He forgives us our sins, but His forgiveness does not negate the consequences, nor does it mean we should keep sinning. When we repent of our sins, turning away from those things we have done–not to do again, He forgives and forgets. If we keep doing the same thing over and over again, we have not repented, and He is not obligated to forgive or forget.
We must forgive the acts by people who don’t know any better–but we don’t hold any grudges against anyone–it only creates difficulty for us. However, we should never forget–so we don’t give them opportunity to repeat themselves.