“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:8-12, NIV).
In a recent discussion in Sunday School our class got off the lesson and into a discussion of “forgiveness.” Of course, we generally concluded that it is much easier to forgive than to forget.
You may have even said that sometime in your life about somebody who has wronged you, “I can forgive them but I can’t forget it.”
When you analyze what you are saying in terms of how God transacts forgiveness, you soon realize that “forgetness” is an integral part of forgiveness. It you don’t forget, then you probably haven’t forgiven.
Look at how God handles forgiveness. In spite of our iniquity, God still loves us–unconditional love. And then he removes our transgressions from us “as far as the east is from the west.” That’s a metaphoric way of saying that God absolutely and completely FORGETS our sins!
With God forgiveness IS “forgetness!” It’s as if we never sinned.
So, aren’t we supposed to forgive the way God forgives?
In fact, forgiveness of sin was the ultimate goal of God in Christ: “But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26, NIV).
That’s what we pray for in the Lord’s prayer: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6,12-15, NIV).
If we say “I forgive you but I can’t forget what you’ve done to me” then you haven’t really forgiven. To forgive is to forget.
At least, that’s the way God does forgiveness.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. (Isaiah 43:25, NIV)