Forgiving but not forgetting - is it Christianly?
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying "Set It Free"
- Forgiveness - Matthew West
It is the norm to hear persons who have been betrayed or hurt by someone saying they have forgiven the perpetrator, but they will never forget. This usually follows through with their refusing to trust that person ever again. A once comfortable relationship has been reduced to polite hellos and there is no mistaking the marked difference in the interactions.
It is even worse when the ones who are finding it hard to forgive and move are Christians.
For insight on the issue, Family and Religion reached out to Rev Dwight Bryan of the ... who reminds that the Bible clearly instructs to forgive even as God has forgiven.
"Mark 11:25-26 states that when we pray we ought to forgive, as this is a prerequisite for receiving our own forgiveness. So, one can clearly see that forgiving others is for one's own benefit," he points out.
Regarding moving on and trusting the offending party once more, Bryan drew reference to John 2:24, "'But Jesus, for His part, did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people [and understood the superficiality and fickleness of human nature]." We see here that Jesus did not entrust himself to the adoring crowd. He knew well that they could shout 'Hosanna' one day, and 'Crucify Him!' the next," he points out.
TRUST HAS TO BE EARNED
According to Bryan, it is one thing to forgive someone - that, he says, is a free gift - but trust he said is something that has to be earned.
"Let us say that we entrusted someone with our car and they drove drunk and crashed it. It would be foolish to hand over the keys to them again in the name of forgiveness when they have failed to demonstrate true repentance, accompanied by genuine change," points out Bryan.
He says dealing with someone who has wronged you in the past and giving them a fresh start is no different than dealing with someone you have met for the first time.
"You would not invite someone into your home and give them access to your bank account and valuables after the first meeting. You have no prior history, so there is no issue of unforgiveness. The issue is then one of establishing a basis for trust," he shares.
Citing the many biblical examples such as Peter being restored after betraying Christ, Paul after persecuting Christians being restored after conversion, and King David restoring his son Absalom even to his own detriment.
"Sometimes when we talk about restoring an individual, we need to be discerning about what should be the appropriate level of fellowship. There are some instances where the one who betrayed and hurt us was placed in a position that they ought not to have occupied in the first place," he says.
Bryan adds, many have the mistaken notion that when God forgives, he automatically entrusts us with what we had before.
That, he says, is not true as many fallen ministers who truly repented have never seen their ministries returned to the glory of their former heyday.
"If there was full automatic restoration then Adam and Eve would have been allowed back into Eden and Moses would have crossed into the Promised Land," Bryan points out.
DON'T KEEP BRINGING UP BETRAYAL
Regarding the hurt inflicted by the offender, Bryan says those hurt should refrain from rehearsing the hurts of the past if they ever want to be healed of their effects and be empowered to move forward.
"Those who fail to do so will find themselves in a trap that the Bible refers to as having a root of bitterness (Heb. 12:15), and short-circuiting their faith. He adds it is important to release the pain and hurt of the past offence to the Lord and allow Him to take charge, as 'Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord'." (Rom. 12:19).
"As we release the hurts of past wrongs to the Lord, He will make us supernaturally forget. In fact, some very painful memories will fade until we can scarcely remember the details. Thus, freeing us to move forward," he shares.
In concluding, he said forgiving is a divine command with no exceptions. Forgetting, he stresses involves an act of will to avoid rehearsing past hurts.
"This is like refraining from taking the scab off a wound so that it can heal. Leaving the matter to God will allow him to rewrite our memories and erase the pain. He will also, by His Spirit, prompt us with the lessons from the past and lead us to successfully avoid similar situations in the future."