Summary: Love forgives and forgets, at least that is what the bible says. How do you make this a reality in your life?
Anyone ever seen the movie ’50 first dates’? It’s based upon a woman who forgets every morning what happened the day before. Each day is new without any regret, hurt or bitterness from the day before. Sometimes I think God wants us as Christians to treat hurt like that. In fact that is exactly what the bible teaches, but we all know how difficult that is to implement. Ever heard someone say, “oh I forgive you, but I’ll never forget.” We, as humans, are prone to forgetting good things and remembering bad things, especially those who are closest to us because they have the greatest capacity to hurt us. This passage clearly states an aspect of love that challenges us to not keep a record of wrongs. “But God, you don’t know what they did to me!” Yes he does and you have no excuse if you have genuinely been changed by His love. So how do we develop love’s short-term memory?
1) Time does not heal wounds
Someone once wrote this lyric, “They say that time heals all wounds, but I beg to differ.” Such a true statement because we all know that many years could go by without some wounds being healed, so how do we sort this out? Well the principle here has to be the fact that only God can heal wounds, whether emotional, psychological, or physical. Counselling is a tool that we have which helps people work with God to bring healing to past hurts that have been ignored or undealt with. It’s not simply a mental exercise; it’s a healing process that the love of God can transform.
If you’re here this morning and you have made the choice that you are not going to forgive or get past something until you let some time go by then I challenge you with this word of warning from Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” God doesn’t ask us to forgive when we’re ready, He would say we must because of what we’ve been forgiven. Only God can help you with that record of wrongs, not time. God wants to do that work in you this morning and know Him as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4, the God of all comfort; He wants to help you love others, but it starts here.
2) Principle of forgiveness
If we are to ever implement this facet of love it begins with forgiveness and our ability to do so without regard for personal pain. Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” This wisdom is something we all know, but we don’t always put it into practice. Imagine what Jesus’ reaction to Peter could have been when he saw him after the crucifixion. He abandoned him and betrayed him. Imagine Jesus walks into the room and is excited to see everyone and then he sees Peter. With a glare he tells Peter that he’s forgiven him, but he hasn’t forgotten. One thing that we see in the life of Jesus is an ability to just let things go. Regardless of what happened to him, no matter how hurtful or painful, he was able to show a love that is so uncharacteristic. Not only was he able to forgive, but he did it immediately and never brought it up again. In love we forgive and in humility we forget because this is what God has demonstrated to us through salvation, Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
3) Emptying the ammunition shed
The challenge for us this morning is to begin going through our past hurts and bitterness. “Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life.” People who struggle with this often have to go through a process, once challenged by God’s love, where they go through their past and sort through lots of old hurt and bitterness. This means opening the door to your ammunition shed and pulling out every bullet and bomb. The only way to disarm them is to give them to God and, in obedience, forgive those represented. As you let go you free yourself to make forward movements in God’s love.
This will be a love experience for you as you make God’s love enough to deal with your past. Now as you let go of these things you have to grab onto something else like promises of a future! “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11