I have had many opportunities to speak at women’s events and I have some favorite topics. One of my top subjects is forgiveness. I often work in a session on forgiveness somehow during the course of a retreat weekend. Why? Because in my speaking, teaching and counseling experience I have met a lot of people whose basic problem is unforgiveness. It may not be the issue they come to speak to me about but after peeling off numerous layers it often comes down to unforgiveness.
Unforgiveness is a form of bondage in itself.
There are different aspects to forgiveness that can hinder a person from forgiving another. I know many people have been horribly sinned against. I am in no way minimizing that. I want to offer a nugget today that may help you along your way to forgiveness and freedom.
In a recent on-line counseling class the teacher – Pastor Tim Pasma—shared about the false idea that forgiveness is forgetting. Many believe that true forgiveness requires forgetting the offense and since in many cases that seems impossible they believe they cannot forgive. When you forgive the offender from your heart it is you that will be set free.
The Lord is our model of forgiveness. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
How has God in Christ forgiven us?
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25 He remembers our sins no more.
Pastor Pasma asked, “Is not remembering and forgetting the same thing?”
Can God forget anything? NO. So God does not forget our sin, He promises not to remember our sin.
I found this distinction helpful.
Forgetting is passive. It happens. You don’t have to do anything to forget. Forgiveness does not require forgetting. The cliché forgive and forget is not Biblical.
However, “not remembering” is active, intentional, and requires choice.
Forgiveness includes a promise not to bring the offense up again with the offender; with others (gossip), or with myself (rehearsing, brooding). This requires intentionally refusing to dwell on the offense.
In closing, let me just add this thought. Forgiveness is a faith-building experience. We don’t wait until we feel like forgiving. No, God commands we forgive so often we don’t “feel” forgiving when we chose to forgive. Forgiveness typically requires us to trust God and to step out in faith.
“And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’” Luke 17:4-5
Freedom is waiting. Chose today to forgive and to not remember the offense.
After serving 16 years full time on the staff of America’s Keswick, Diane and her husband moved to North Carolina where she continues to serve part time as a contributing writer and Partner Care Consultant. She is also a Biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.