By Luther Bolenbarker
How would you finish this sentence? Before reading further, please complete the sentence. “To forgive is _______.”
Some of the well-known psychologists (people who make a study of people) suggest that about 90% of the people say, “To forgive is to forget.” Now if 90% of the people say this, then it must be true, Right? Not necessarily so! But is their answer really an accurate statement? It certainly should be.
When there has been a great hurt, such as a husband or wife forsaking one another for someone else, or perhaps we were fired unjustly from our job, or one whom we love deeply says or does something which cuts and wounds our feelings, can we say, “I’ll forgive and forget”? This is a very unrealistic concept of the human mind, but a necessary concept for the Christian mind (Luke 17:3,4).
“To forgive is not in my vocabulary” is the answer some would give. Their slogan is, “I don’t forget; I get even.” Thank goodness this attitude is not to be found in the Christian’s life (Rom. 12:17).
“To forgive is divine” another would respond. It should be and must be in the life of a Christian, but sometimes it is just a cliche and may be a way to avoid the issue.
“Offences will come,” said Jesus in Luke 17:1. So this tells me that none of us are beyond the possibility of making mistakes as we live as mortal men in a sinful world. Sometimes offences may not be sinful, just hurtful. In either case, there must be a willingness to forgive, and the other half of forgiveness must of necessity also include forgetting.
Not to forget is to hold a grudge which will lead to our seeking revenge. Sometimes this revenge is direct (openly confront, maybe even coming to blows) or indirect (ignore the offendee or sow discord among the brethren).
Forgiveness must not include tucking things away in a neat little package until something triggers them (don’t like their looks, clothes, they overlooked me, they didn’t speak to me, or whatever), then pulling out all our hostility, piece by piece. To “forgive” is that quality of life which ways, “That’s all right, it is as though it never happened, I forgive you.”
Let us close our study with Matthew 6:14,15 where Jesus told His disciples, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
“Forgiveness” is absolutely necessary if we want to go to heaven when we die!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 18, p. 561
September 20, 1984