“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” Matthew 6:14, NLT
“I’ll forgive, but I’ll never forget!” This is a statement probably with which all of us are familiar, either by hearing or possibly declaring ourselves. No one wants to be thought of as unforgiving, but we think it only reasonable, and perhaps even logical, to never forget a grievance done against us.
Forgiveness is a beautiful word; it has undertones of generosity and righteousness of character; it feels good from the vantage point of both an undeserved offender and the offended giver, that is until the offense is remembered at some future date. I am embarrassed to confess that forgiving others when I have been deeply wounded is a struggle in my growth as a follower of Jesus Christ. Recently, in a conversation with a dear friend, he and I discussed the topic of forgiveness, during which the breaking down of the word gave clarity I had never considered. Think about this – a “sin,” or an offense is some action perpetrated upon another person; the action might cause physical scars but certainly, emotional, or mental scars. Can we willfully makethe scars go away? If you are a suffering victim, the process of healing wounds is more about your relationship with the Healer than with your offender.
To “never forget” is an exercise of resurrecting memories, both good and bad. To “never forget” means looking behind where we have been, rather than ahead to where we are going. We cannot change where we have been. By taking a little literary license, I would like to offer another way of looking at the word, forgiveness. A simple change to the prefix, fore, presents another option for dealing with offenses. Instead of looking back and remembering, we can take our hurts and scars and fore–give them over to Jesus, whose life on the cross and blood forgave us. After Jesus arose from the grave, He still bore the scars of the crucifixion. Today, with His nail-scarred hands, He wants you and me to hand over our scars to Him – this action is called, forgiveness.
For deeper thought, read John 20.