Friday, November 29, 2013

Forgive and Forget...Is It Possible?

                Have you ever thought to yourself that you need to forgive? You need to let go of the pain and the hurt that someone has caused and just forgive them? Have you ever wondered why you can’t seem to let it go, why you can’t seem to be free of the constant list of grievances you have against this person? I found myself there this morning, wanting to forgive, to let go, but finding it hard to do so. I want to forgive and
move on, but after I lay it down, I find myself picking it back up again and starting to go over the list of hurts once again. So how do we forgive? How do we forgive and forget? People have told me that it is one thing to forgive but something entirely different to forget, and as humans forgetting is impossible for us. But is it? Is it impossible for us to forgive and forget? Didn’t Jesus forgive and forget our sins as He hung upon the cross? Does He remember our sins, even though He has forgiven us? No, He does not remember- He forgives them, and He forgets them. So how can we be like Christ and forgive and forget? I think our answer is found in the pages of our Bibles.
                “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”  Colossians 2:13-14
                Jesus, as He hung upon the cross accomplished the plan of our salvation, and our forgiveness. He said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Finished means completed and fulfilled. As Christ died, He satisfied God’s requirements for the sins we have committed. Jesus did not say that He finished it, but would remember every little detail of our sins forevermore. He said, finished, fulfilled, and forgotten. Paul tells us that Christ “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us”. Christ took the list of our sins and He nailed them to His cross. As He bled and died, my sins went into the dust of the ground never to be brought before God again.
                That is what I believe true forgiveness is. When we choose to forgive someone, we choose to let their sins against us fall to the dust of the ground, never to be remembered again. But that seems to be difficult for me. I find that the more I want to forgive, the more I remember all the hurt and pain, and all the offenses that they have committed against me. But we must forgive, because Christ forgave. And we must forget, because Christ has forgotten. So how then do we forgive and forget? Is it even possible for us to do so? I believe it is.
                The handwriting that Paul refers to in Colossians is defined as “chargeable offenses which God has written” (Lexicon, Blue Letter Bible).  It is the rules and requirements that God has set forth for us to follow in His Law, the whole Law, which we know we are unable to keep.  James shows us that if we are to keep the whole law, yet stumble in one point, then we are guilty of the whole law. (James 2:10)  Paul also states that we all have sinned; we have all transgressed and fallen short. (Romans 3:23) There is with God a list of sorts of all our sins and transgressions that we have committed towards God and towards our brethren. Every sin that you have ever committed was written down by God’s hand.  But, when we give our lives to Jesus Christ; when we look upon His cross and believe that He is our Savior, that list goes away. It is blotted out, covered up, and erased. God cannot see your sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.
                Once you have come to Jesus and asked for His mercy, forgiveness and salvation, all that handwriting that was against you is now gone. It is not only forgiven, but it is forgotten. It is no longer before God; it is no longer keeping you from Him. You are now freely forgiven, and your sins have been paid for. This same principle applies to us. We too are to forgive and forget. I find that I too keep a list of all the offenses, hurts and disappointments in regards to certain people, and even though I have said I have forgiven them, I have not yet forgotten.
               To forgive means that we nail the sins of those who have hurt us to the cross of Jesus Christ. We take the handwritten list of offenses and we place them on the nails that pierced His hands. We put them there, and we leave them there. Forgiveness comes only when we truly forget as well. We take the lists that we have made and we toss them upon Jesus. Just as He took our sins upon Himself, we place their sins and offenses towards us upon Him too. We let go and we let Him take them. We do not remember them anymore.
                Jesus shows us what complete forgiveness looked like as He died upon the cross. He did not look upon us and say, “Your sins are forgiven, but I will always know what you have done.” No, He looks upon us and says, “You are forgiven and your sins are remembered no more.” They are gone, as far as the east is from the west, as deep as the ocean, as far away as the farthest universe in space, so are our sins removed. We, who truly seek to forgive, must do the same. Our flesh will want to bring up these offenses and it will want to keep the list, but we must choose to nail it to the cross, to cover it with His blood and remember them no more. Jesus wiped our slate clean, true forgiveness does the same to those who have hurt you.
                Will it be easy? Of course not, it will be something we have to do willingly and something we will find ourselves doing often. But the more we hold onto that list, the more hurt we will become, and we will find forgiveness harder and harder to give. We must choose forgiveness, and we must choose to forget. We must be willing to wipe the slate clean, just as Christ wiped ours clean with His blood. No matter whom it is we need to forgive, even if it is your spouse, or child, or parent. We must do for them as Christ did for us- forgive and forget. Many of us will say we have forgiven, but we will never forget the pain that it caused us. But that is not who Christ desires us to be. He desires us to show forgiveness the way He showed forgiveness. True forgiveness forgets. He forgets your sins, should we not also forget the sins of others?

                I pray today for all of us who are still holding onto the lists that we have handwritten against those who have hurt us, sinned against us and caused us pain. I pray that we would take that list and nail it to the cross, following the example of true forgiveness that our Lord and Savior paid so dearly for. I pray that we, as Christian brothers and sisters, would wipe the slate clean and forgive and forget as Christ did. That through our forgiveness, and forgetting that all those who have hurt us would see the love of Jesus Christ and the true forgiveness He so freely gave. In Jesus Name, amen and amen.