My experience in life as it relates to God and how He speaks to me has not been one of great epiphanies or the kind of conversion experiences written about in the Bible. Mine is more of a journey or a process, which I think is probably more of the norm than the exception for most people.
Learning to forgive therefore has been the process of a journey rather than a destination because forgiving others seems to be an ongoing process of continually choosing not to remember. This idea is odd, I joked with some people this week while talking about the subject that I don’t choose to forget where I put my keys or my wallet… it just happens. But, I must make a willful and conscience decision to not remember other things like what someone did or said to me that was bad.
Last week my pastor preached on the subject of mercy. We’ve all likely read the passage in Matthew 5:7 ~ “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
When combined with Jesus’ words just one chapter later, in 6:14-15, a fuller picture begins to emerge…
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your father will not forgive your sins.
My mind, being what it is and capable of going places on thoughts that seem to come from nowhere, jumped to the idea of God’s forgiveness of me. Look at what Hebrews 10:17 says… “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” The context here comes from Jeremiah 33, where God promises to write His words of instruction deep within our hearts so that we will know what we are to do and how to live.
So how is it that God can seemingly forget my sins, but I can’t forget what someone else did or said to me? Put another way, if God knows all things, how can He not remember our sins?
I was told this week that it’s not a matter of losing our memory of the things done to us or said about us. That’s difficult at best, if not impossible. But… and this is key: we have the ability to consciously choose whether or not we will continue to dwell on those things and allow them to cause us to use these memories to fester and maintain bitterness within us.
Look at Hebrews 11 and the list of those God hails for their faith. If you read the individual stories surrounding those characters — Abraham, Moses, Enoch, Sarah, etc. — they are held up in high esteem for their faith. What God fails to mention in the story in Hebrews is all the times these people failed to obey God. He remembered their sins no more and instead uses them as shining examples of the kind of faith we should strive to attain.
This sure gives a larger meaning and sense of reassurance to the passage in 1 John that reads:
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
- Chapter Eighteen: Forgiveness (reflectionsofgracehome.wordpress.com)
- The Faith To Forgive (pastorht.wordpress.com)