When we, or a loved one, get hurt, our minds may be dominated by thoughts of revenge. But it is never possible to get even. A theology professor who wrote extensively about forgiveness in a paper titled: ‘Forgive and Forget’, emphasised that revenge never evens the score, because alienated people never keep a score of wrongs by the same mathematics. Forgiveness is the only way to stop the cycle of unfair pain turning in your memory.
These insights help us understand why Paul, the stalwart of faith, wrote in Ephesians 4: 31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.”
Paul knew that a spirit of forgiveness was essential for the Ephesians and their spiritual survival. Forgiveness is not forgetting, excusing or smoothing things over. Instead, forgiveness is love’s toughest work and love’s biggest risk. It breaks the cycle of revenge and creates a new possibility of fairness by releasing us from the unfair past. To forgive is to dance to the beat of God’s forgiving heart. It is to ride the crest of love’s strongest wave. To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. Because revenge imprisons us while forgiveness sets us free.
God longs to forgive sinners but in the minds of many people, this thought seems too good to be true. Countless sermons have been preached to convince guilt-ridden individuals that it is true. Many of these sermons emphasise that God not only
forgives the sinner but also forgets the sin.
I had often said it myself, never doubting its accuracy. Then one Sunday I heard a sermon that revolutionalised my thinking. The speaker caught my attention whe he said, “the idea that God forget my sins isn’t very reassuring to me. After all, what if He suddenly remembered? In any case, only imperfection can forget and God is perfect.”
As I was questioning the biblical basis for such statements, the pastor read Hebrews chapter 8: 12, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Then he said, “God doesn’t say He’ll forget our sins. What He says is that He’ll remember them no more. His promise not to remember them ever again is stronger than Him saying He’ll forget them.” Now that really reassured me.
Do you worry that there are certain sins you’ll be punished for someday? Worry not because Christ died for all our sins. God promises to forgive us and never bring up our sins again. God, whose every way is perfect, said in justice and grace that our sins He’ll not remember, and our fears He will erase. To enjoy the future, forgive others and accept God’s forgiveness for your past. Choose to forgive and be set free.
Published on March 2014