Summary: What is the relationship between forgiving and trusting? Forgiving and forgetting? What should be our primary motive in forgiving?
Forgiving, Trusting, Forgetting
1. Once upon a time in their marriage, Saul Rosenberg did something really stupid. Ethel Rosenberg chewed him out for it. He apologized, they made up.
However, from time to time, Ethel would mention what he had done.
"Honey," Saul finally said one day, "why do you keep bringing that up? I thought your policy was 'forgive and forget.'"
"It is," Ethel said. "I just don't want you to forget that I've forgiven and forgotten." [aish.com]
2. When people say, “I’ve forgiven but not forgotten,” I wonder if they have genuinely forgiven. Or perhaps they don’t understand what it means to forget?
3. What is the relationship between forgiving, forgetting, and trusting one you have forgiven? Do I have to trust someone I have forgiven immediately? If not, when do I forget? Or do I forget? Or how can I forget?
Main Idea: Forgiveness is a deep subject and raises many practical questions.
I. What Is the Relationship Between Forgiving and TRUSTING?
A. When you forgive – depending upon the situation – you may not immediately TRUST.
1. In some instances, you simply give the offender an OPPORTUNITY to establish credibility.
2. A truly repentant offender does not EXPECT to be trusted immediately or soon after being reconciled.
B. FAITHFULNESS over time is what generally re-establishes relational credibility.
When Chuck Colson came to Christ, cynics said it was just his attempt to get a lighter jail sentence. I don’t think anyone could say that now.
C. EXAMPLES from Scripture help us understand this concept.
1. John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Luke 3:7-9)
D. Sometimes full trustworthiness can never be REGAINED.
1. Those who keep repeating the same offense and keep recycling.
2. We might have to forgive our brother 70 times 7 if he says he repents, but we would be fools to trust him.
3. God can forgive some of the TV preachers who absconded funds and patronized brothels if they repent, but they should not be in leadership or in the pulpit.
4. Would we offer Bill Cosby a new TV show, even if he repented?
5. With some people, we should not put in ourselves in a situation where we have to trust them. They have repented and God has forgiven them, but it would take decades to re-establish credibility in some cases.
II. When I Forgive, Must I Also FORGET?
A. In the Biblical sense of forgetting, YES.
Jeremiah 31:34, “ And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.””
• Objection: God knows everything. If He forgets something, He no longer knows everything.
B. By forgetting, we mean to choose not to bring to MIND.
The Hebrew word translated remember is zakar. It is a word with a broad meaning, and, depending upon context, it can be translated as to, “think about, meditate upon, pay attention to, remember, recollect, mention, declare, recite, proclaim, invoke, commemorate…”among others (TWOT, V. 1, p. 550).
C. We choose not to REHASH the forgiven sin, but we are aware of it.
• I remember being a teen and getting a large pimple on my forehead, like a third eye. People would try not to look at it, but, just as we struggle not to do so, so did they. But family, who were used to seeing me, soon blotted it out.
• It may take time to process this, especially the choice not to focus upon it.
D. We don’t use the forgiven sin as something to HOLD OVER another; the debt of sin is cancelled.
E. Remember, we are addressing situations where the offender has REPENTED.
This is only as far as forgiveness is concerned. If the offender has not repented and we have chosen to let go and move on, things can be different. We still want to get to the point where we no longer obsess over the infraction.
III. What Should Be My Main MOTIVATION in Forgiving?
A. Forgiveness is not primarily about US.
1. Our society start taking an unusually self-centered approach in the 1970s with the “Me generation.” And it has only gotten worse. The reason we as believers forgive is not for primarily selfish reason.
2. We keep hearing “do it for yourself.” Folks, we need to focus less on doing things for ourselves, and more upon doing things to honor and obey God.
3. Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you…”
4. Colossians 3:13, “ bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”