“Forgive and forget.” Well, maybe. We want others to do that for our offenses.. but could you punish the jerk next to me! Forgiveness: we want it for ourselves. We want something else for those who hurt us. I suggest thinking through this concept of forgiveness is key to living.
I struggle with forgiveness. I am able to say, “I forgive you.” What happens to me is that I both remember and often relive the hurt. I once left a job. It was a job a poured myself into. There was much about the situation which was abusive and flat our wrong. I say that I forgive. But here is the deal. I still get upset when I think about it. The wound is deep.
Me getting upset is maddening. I know, that while I am sitting and stewing about the situation, the person who offended me is going about their day.
Forgiveness. It’s tricky. Many of us were told to forgive and forget. We were raised to believe that somehow, forgiving someone, somehow, magically erases the offense. Can I just say right now, that is nonsense.
So what is forgiveness? Consider one example. You borrow $1,000 from the bank. You agree to pay it back, maybe even with interest. Then you don’t. You fail to repay the loan. For some unknown reason, the bank “forgives” your loan. What does that exactly mean?
It means they have given up their right to drag you into court and sue you for their money. Said another way, they have given up their right to justice. It does not mean they have “forgotten” about the lost money. In fact they have to show the world this unpaid loan on their financial reports. Your offense is not forgotten.
When we ask someone for forgiveness we are doing two things. First, we are saying we are guilty. Second, we are asking the person we offended to relinquish their right to justice.
When you ask Jesus to forgive your sins, you are saying you are guilty of the offense, and you are asking him to abandon His right to punish you.
When you are forgiven, the person you offended has given up their right for the justice they truly deserve.
That is nice when we are the “offender,” but what about when we are offended? We need to keep pressing in.
"What about when we are offended?" This is not a small question. The wounds others inflict on us are deep. What is the worst thing someone has ever done to you? I am not being flip. I am thinking of some horrific things that have happened to my friends.
This is why “forgive and forget” is BS! Telling my friends to forget the terrible things that have happened to them, is like saying to them those deep wounds are not a big deal…and they are!
If God created this world. If God is both Loving and Just. If God cares about me. Then how does this Loving and Just God deal with all the garbage we humans do to each other. Especially when this loving God tells us we should forgive not once or twice, but infinitely (See Matthew 18:21-22).
We need to go to a court room to understand.
Take the image in your mind, imagine you are in a court. The person who has hurt you has plead guilty. The judge accepts the guilty plea. He has the person who has admitted, in public, that they are guilty, stand. The gavel slams and you hear the judge in a commanding voice pronounce “guilty”.
Then the oddest thing happens. The judge stands up, removes his robe, walks down and stands next to the guilty fiend who badly hurt you, he looks at you with tears, says he is sorry, and says “I will pay the price”. He then turns to the guilty person, and with the same tears says, “I will pay the price”.
The only way God can forgive an offense (be loving), while at the same time feel your pain and your need to hear Him say to you that He knows you have been deeply hurt, is for Him to bear the cost of the guilt (justice)…and that, in a nutshell is the Cross.
Upon Him was laid the sins of the world. Upon Him was laid the deepest hurts of your life. Upon him was laid Auschwitz and Columbine and, well you fill in the blank. Please do not underestimate the pain that Jesus bore on and in his body.
He did it for love. He did it so we could forgive.
We need to forgive. Not forget, but forgive. We need to wash out our wound the dirt and debris of anger, even hate, or the wound will never heal. When it does, there will be a scar. Some deeply disfigure us. Yet in these scars, with a lot of prayer and work, we will find the depth of Jesus’ love for us.