Third In A Six-Week Series On "Forgiveness"
"I’ll forgive you — but I’ll never forget!!"
Ever had someone say that to you? Or, have you said it to someone who’d hurt you?
If so, guess what? The real message being given was "I’ll never forgive you" — for refusing to "let go" of past hurts never allows them to heal. And, keeping a record of them (at least mentally) basically keeps them at the ready to use against that person if he/she hurts you again.
"But, it’s impossible to forget!" someone says adamantly.
"Yeah," chimes in another — "Because if you forget, it’s apt to happen again!"
While there’s some validity in both statements, the fact remains that forgiveness and forgetfulness go hand-in-hand. Just as a deep cut takes time to heal, so do the hurts we’ve received by someone else’s unloving words and/or deeds. But, over time that cut will heal, leaving only a scar — and so should it be with our hurts.
The problem is we don’t want to forgive and really don’t know how to forgive.
It’s our nature to nurse our hurts and pitch tents on our resentments. Somehow we feel justified in clinging to those sins against us, forgetting that God doesn’t act that way toward us (Psalm 103:12; Jeremiah 31:34b).
But, our refusing to forgive AND forget, dear Reader, is nothing but pride and willful, stubborn disobedience. If Jesus could forgive us from the Cross, who are we to hold onto grudges and allow a "bitter root" (Hebrews 12:15) to grow up within us?
Years ago, Corrie ten Boom, whose family hid Jews in their house in a special "Hiding Place" and were later thrown into concentration camps, spoke on the need for forgiveness after her release on a clerical error. One night at the end of a session she noticed a tall man in a heavy overcoat walking up the aisle toward her.
"Suddenly," she said, "my blood ran cold — for I recognized him as one of the main SS guards in the concentration camp who’d forced all of us women to strip naked in front of them as we were processed into the camp."
"As he approached," she continued, "every part of me wanted nothing to do with him. But, then he stopped and said ‘Ms. Ten Boom, you don’t know me, but years ago during the war I did some horrible things. Then, after the war I came to know the Jesus you talked about and feel like I need to ask you to forgive me’."
He then extended his hand toward hers for a handshake.
"My muscles seemed paralyzed," Corrie shared.
"I did not want to even touch this one who’d humiliated Betsy, my sister, the other women and me in the camp! Yet, within my heart I heard a still, small Voice whispering, ‘Corrie, if you do not forgive, you cannot be forgiven.’ And, I knew then I had to take his hand.
"When our hands touched, it was like a surge of electricity shot through me. Suddenly, instead of a handshake, we were both embracing and weeping — and at that moment I experienced a depth of Grace I’d never known before all because I’d forgiven him."
Powerful story, isn’t it?
Without a doubt — and one that we need to make our own each day when it comes to forgiving those who’ve hurt us.
True Love "keeps no record" (I Corinthians 13:4-8); instead, it releases all hurts to Jesus, Whose nail-scarred Hands bear witness of the price of forgiveness. And, just as dying on a cross wasn’t painless, quick or easy, so it is with "dying to ourselves" (Galatians 2:20) when it comes to forgiving those who’ve hurt us.
Here’s praying you’ll turn loose of your resentments and bitterness this week and allow the Heavenly Father to "create within you a clean heart" (Psalm 51:10). Only then will you experience the joy that comes with knowing you’ve been forgiven and Christ’s "Peace that passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).
To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled "Morning Manna," write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.