We had such a wonderful response to the message on forgiveness on Sunday, October 31, that I thought I’d do a short series of blogs on the topic. If you missed the message, you can view it at: http://www.gfcfamily.com/unlocked-part7/
One of the things that Jesus makes clear in Mt 18 and other passages is this; if you’re a believer, forgiveness of others is not optional for you if you want the blessing of God in your life!
Forgiveness isn’t forgetting what happened.
The old cliché “Forgive and Forget” doesn’t always happen. However, even though I may not forget the offense – I no longer have to let it control me.
When I was in college and dating Janet (my wife of 33 years now) we had a mutual friend that I felt betrayed me. He said some things about me to Janet that I felt were designed to hinder my relationship with her. I was hacked and felt somewhat betrayed.
I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I went to see one of my spiritual mentors – a very godly man with great wisdom. He let me vent for a little while then asked me some profound questions that went something like this. 1) Since Jesus has forgiven you of so much, don’t you think you can forgive this friend for what he did? 2) Do you believe Phil 4:13 which says: I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who gives me strength? Then he handed me a book and said: “I want you to pretend that all your offenses toward this friend are written in this book. Can you do that?” I said – “Yes, I guess.” He said, “Now I want you to put that book on the floor.” I did. Then he asked me: “Do you have the ability to leave that book on the floor and never pick it up again?” Again I said, “Yes”. He then told me that I have the same ability to do that with this offense by my friend; through the power of Jesus Christ I could leave the offense there in the room and never pick it up again – just like I could do with that book! It didn’t mean I’d forget it – obviously I haven’t or I wouldn’t be writing about it now, but it no longer had to control me – I didn’t have to carry it any further not even out of the room.
I made a choice that day to forgive my friend. Trust wasn’t immediately restored, but I forgave the him and left the offense in the room when I left; it was awesome! Yes, there was a good confrontation with this friend (Mt. 18:15 style – which should have been done before I went to my spiritual mentor) and we’ve continued our friendship for 35 years.
Check out the principle in this passage….
But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me. Phil 3:13b NIrV
Paul said he used all his energy to forget the past, but in other places in the Bible he talked about it….SO HE REALLY DIDN”T FORGET HIS PAST. Paul was saying – I’ve made a total break with my past so I can pursue what God has for me. I’ll not let the past control me!
When you forgive – it doesn’t mean you totally forget the offense – you just don’t let it control you.
Paul said in Eph 1:19-20a CEV I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us followers. It is the same wonderful power he used 20when he raised Christ from death…
If you’re a Christian, you can release the past & never pick it up again through the power God gives you – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! You can forgive and no longer allow the offense to control you, even though you might not forget that it happened.