Forgive and Forget?

August 2016 archive
“I thought you forgave me?”
“I did.”
“Then why are you bringing this up again? You’re supposed to forgive and forget.”
My guess is you’ve experienced this conversation at some point in life, probably from both points of view. All of us have forgiven others and been forgiven by others. And all of us have struggled with forgetting.
This is because forgetting is impossible. We are not capable of it. If something needs to be forgiven, it’s because sin has struck and left its mark, often turning into a scar.
You can’t forget sin; you can only deal with it. Which is exactly what Jesus Christ does. He deals with it. He puts sin to death on the cross, at your baptism and everyday since through the work of His Body the church. Our struggle isn’t with forgetting, because that’s impossible. Our struggle is with forgiving, which is also impossible apart from Jesus.
This is why the conversation above sounds so familiar.When someone replays a sinful offense, over and over, brewing and stewing, even though they already grudgingly spoke the obligated words of forgiveness, then the problem isn’t really forgetting. The problem is someone hasn’t forgiven. The problem is us and our struggle to let Jesus do what He does and deal with it.


I recently read an article by Professor Mark D. Rockenbach, published in the Spring 2016 Concordia Journal. He describes this struggle in such a helpful way.

You can run from Jack, you can attack Jack, or you can forgive Jack. By the gracious work of Jesus we can forgive Jack and end the ruminated cycle of unforgiveness. The goal is not to forget but to forgive and we forgive because of the work of Christ. Will you still remember what Jack did? Probably so. But if you have forgiven him you will remember it differently, you will see it differently. You will remember the incident through the forgiveness of Jesus.
Forgive and Forget? Don’t waste your time trying to forget, just forgive and remember differently. Re-member that we are both forgiven and able to forgive. That’s enough, because He is enough.
In His Grip,
Pastor Guy Roberts