Timeless truths on forgiveness and forgetting.
Joseph forgave his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Chuck Lynch in his excellent book, I should forgive, But… cites a number of great common excuses for not forgiving. Let’s examine this one: “I should forgive, but I can’t forget.”
Unfortunately, some religious person without much knowledge of Scripture coined the phrase, “Forgive and forget.” That became “scriptural” in the minds of the unsuspecting. The Bible does not command us to “forgive and forget.” As Dr. Lynch so vividly points out, forgiveness is a volitional function of the will. Forgetting is a biological function of the mind.
We are commanded in the Bible to forgive those who sin against us. So, what if you remember the infraction after you have forgiven them? You then remember that it is forgiven! Just because the event resides in your mind, it does not have to reside in your heart. When you remember that you have forgiven the debt, then you act on the fact that the debt is forgiven! You do not hold the person to account.
While Joseph had forgiven his brothers he very clearly stated that they “meant it for evil” but God used it for good. When you associate the debt with forgiveness, over time the degree of the debt will be minimized and the degree of the forgiveness maximized!