Forgive And Forget

Monday, November 13, 2017
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Listen while you read: "The Little Brown Church In The Vale"1 (Lyrics)

Matthew 6:15 – But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NLT)

If you still remember, you haven't forgiven.

After 17 years — 19 if you count the dating part, Sarah called it quits. She walked out and left her husband and two kids. She couldn't explain why she did it, but she did. Maybe it was because she never wanted to be a preacher's wife in the first place. She had endured for 16 of their 17 years together. That seemed more than fair. Now the lifestyle was getting to her. She had wild oats to sow that she'd never had a chance to sow before.

John, her husband, was bitter. He couldn't believe that she would do what she had done. Leave it all. Everything they had built together. And leave him with the bills and the kids. He knew what the Bible said about forgiveness — and forgave her. Forgetting was another story. Occasionally, one of his church members would remind him that if he didn't forget, he hadn't forgiven. He wondered how you could consciously forget something.

The Bible — and Jesus particularly — has a lot to say about forgiveness. One thing that it doesn't say is that, as part of the forgiveness act, I have to forget what others have done to me. Forgiveness is releasing someone from a debt that they owe because of a sin that they have committed against me. Period. Forgetting is impossible unless I experience brain damage or contract a brain disease such as dementia or Alzheimer's.

What I can — and must — do is to stop dwelling on the infraction. In my own power, I can't even accomplish this, but God's power in me can. John eventually moved beyond what Sarah had done to him and the family. He never forgot it, because he couldn't, but he no longer sought revenge. Neither did he stew over the situation all the time.

I know that I've forgiven when I don't dwell on the injury, when I'm not out for revenge, when I can interact with the person who has offended me if I have to, and when I don't get angry when I think about the injustice committed against me. I'll never forget others' wounds against me, but I can forgive and move on.

Let's stop trying to forget the infractions others have committed against us and just forgive.

Prayer: Father, as You have forgiven us, enable us to forgive others who harm us in various ways. Amen.

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About the author:

Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Martin.

    Great lesson for everyone. Thank you, Martin. Blessings.

    Sometimes it is very hard to forgive, but in Christ, we are able.

    Well said, Martin.

    Martin, Thanks for sharing this devotional with us.

    A very fine devotional today Martin. Food for thought!

    Thank you so much, Martin for such a clear answer to a very real problem about forgiveness. You have given a wonderful explanation about the “forgetting” part.

    What can be said? Lord, have mercy! Save us humans from ourselves, from each other. So be it! Amen!
    Thanks for sharing a heartbreaking story!

    I agree, it is impossible to forget. But the spirit gently leads us to seeing the event in a different light. And guides us into healing!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Such wise words, Martin, and often so hard to follow. My mother-in-law, who was wonderful in many ways, just could NOT forget. It was quite a lesson to watch how that situation often wounded her more grievously than others.
    Thank you.

    Martin Wiles,
    Thank you, Martin Wiles, for reminding us that forgiving does not include forgetting, for we want to remember your part and others in the releasing to you of all that is not best in your sight. Help us to love others as you love us.
    And guide us, we pray in praying for the good of all persons involved.

    I enjoyed your devotional today. I agree that we can’t forget the incident because God gave us a memory that functions in a healthy brain. But perhaps what we can forget is the hurt that was caused us by the actions of someone else. We will still remember the incident but not the pain associated with it.
    Thanks for all the Devotionals that you contribute.

    Yes, forgive. But I have found myself left with the wounds inflicted by those careless, wanton words and actions that have damaged my soul and my relationships. As a pastor, we are the target for people’s anger and bitterness. Forgive. Yes. But I cried out to the Lord in pain from the wounds I had accumulated over the years. I needed healing. For days I cried out. Then, in prayer, I saw a flask. Much like the one Lucy held in Lion, Witch and Wardrobe. Just a drop. And I heard the Lord say: is my love enough? They did not love you. I know. But I do. Is My love enough? And for maybe an hour I sat and brought out all the wounds and let Him pour drops of His love on them and they were healed. His love is enough for me. His death, more than sufficient to pay the price of sin, mine and theirs, and His love, so abundant, I have never felt unloved again and the pain is gone and I can look the offenders in the face and love them and… do I remember what they did? Yes, but, it doesn’t matter. The wounds are healed. I can move on, loving and giving. How great is our God!

    Hi Martin,
    It is difficult indeed, to forgive and forget. I think it is fair to say that we have all done some things which were not right and I know that we are forgiven, but I also think about those things quite often, not what others have done to me, but rather what I have done to others.
    A little different than what you wrote, but still a problem.
    Thanks for writing.

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