Monday, February 14, 2011

Is Forgiving Forgetting?

I ended the last series of posts on the pit of betrayal by talking about the most important element of healing from such a wound - the need to forgive. But what exactly is forgiveness? I have found that most people have a distorted view of forgiveness. The reason for this is because just about every one of us grew up being taught this:


Now there are two problems with this statement that we all learned as kids. First, it is not Biblical. You will not find anywhere in the Bible where it teaches that forgiveness is forgetting. And second, it simply isn't possible. Can you really forget the times people in your life, especially those closest to you, hurt you? I don't think so. So if forgiveness is not forgetting, than what is it? 1 Corinthians 13 gives us the answer.

In this great love chapter (in which the context is love in the church, not love in marriage) Paul gives us several descriptions of love. Each of them are actions, not feelings. And about halfway through the list he writes,

"Love keeps no record of right and wrong."

This is describing someone who keeps a ledger of what is owed them so it can ultimately be repaid. Love doesn't do that. Love does not keep a mental record of what someone has done to hurt you in order to pay them back when the opportunity arises.

You see, forgiveness remembers. But forgiveness does not remember in order to use the past hurt as a weapon in the future. Forgiveness says that even when I remember the hurtful pain of the past, I will not use that remembrance against the person who inflicted the pain on me. Oh, I will be tempted to - probably many times and for many years. But every time the memory of my past hurt tempts me to seek some type of present revenge, I will say NO to that temptation. This is forgiveness.

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