Forgive and forget. I think we’ve all heard that phrase and one time or another. The thing is, we usually forgive, but there are times when we don’t forget. After we supposedly “forgive” the person, we continue to stew in our anger over whatever they did that hurt us. This isn’t true forgiveness. It’s more than the words. It’s the attitude we have after forgiving someone. There are three scenarios that forgiveness needs to be given:
1. When the person asks you for forgiveness. This would usually result in a straightforward “I forgive you”. Again, it’s more than the words. If you don’t feel like you can actually be forgiving when you forgive someone, forget it! They’re just empty words. Instead, discuss with the person about why you’re having a difficult time forgiving them, and see if you can fix the problem.
2. When someone has hurt you, but doesn’t realize it. This requires no words at all. If you went to them and said “I forgive you”, you’d only be confusing them. Like I said, they don’t realize they hurt you; it was probably an accident. Still, this is more difficult to forgive than the first, because they didn’t even ask for your forgiveness. This way, it’s easier to build up anger about what happened. Release it! Talk to God if you’re having difficulty forgiving them.
3. When a person hurts you purposely and doesn’t ask for or even want your forgiveness!!! This is the hardest of the three. Here, we can see no reason at all why we should forgive them. In fact, in this case we are usually looking for revenge. We need to look at the Bible for help here. Acts 7:60 (NIV); in the end of this chapter, the council is stoning Stephen (who is known as the first martyr) for accusing them of murdering the Messiah. This is what happens in the last verse: “Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Even as he was dying (when it says “asleep”, it really means he died), he asked God to forgive them. Can you believe that? The ultimate forgiveness. They were killing him for unjust reasons. Stephen was a man “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”. In other words, he was an awesome guy! We need to follow his example. Although here in America we wouldn’t be killed for our faith, we need to put this example to work in smaller-scale things.
So, forgive and forget. It can be hard, but it’s the right thing to do! We all need to learn to give forgiveness.