Simple Devotions
For the Complex Life

Forgive and Forget

Have you ever told someone that you forgave them? Have you ever said to someone, "It's ok... I have forgiven you?" What did you mean by that?

The word "forgive" means to pardon one for their trespasses. I means to excuse a person from the things they have done against you, to absolve them from any punishment. It means to renounce your anger at that person, and not to hold it against them.

A very popular phrase used today regarding forgiveness, is "Forgive but don't forget." But when you truly forgive someone, you are forgetting what they have done against you. You are saying, "it is in the past, and it does not exist anymore." You are putting it out of your mind, and out of your heart.

Many Christians say they have forgiven someone, and yet they use the very things they "forgave" against them later. They bring up past transgressions to hurt or wound the person they are angry with. Imagine if God did this to us? Imagine if you had a fight with God, or didn't listen to God, and He said, "Well remember the time when you were 5 and told your parents a lie? Remember when you were 8 and you stole candy from the store? Remember the first time you used my name in vain?"

The phrase "forgive but don't forget" should be "forgive AND forget." Because if you continue to remember their crimes against you, you are letting those past trespasses, those past actions that you forgave, cause resentment in your heart. You are letting those past transgressions affect your relationship with that person.

You cannot forgive someone, and still be angry at them for what they have done. You cannot forgive someone, and still hold a grudge against them. God tells us to forgive each other AS HE has forgiven us. He tells us not to judge them for their actions, after we have pardoned them. He tells us not to hold a grudge against them, but rather to forgive them in our hearts (Matthew 18:35).

When you say you have forgiven someone, have you truly forgiven them? Are you saying it because it is true, or because you feel it is the right thing to say? Today, if there is someone you have not forgiven, if there is someone you are still angry at, take time to make it right (Matthew 5:23-24). Examine yourself, ask yourself... what have they done that I cannot forgive, when Christ forgave us after all of our sins. What have they done, that we cannot forgive, even after Christ asked His Father to forgive the very people who were murdering Him?