Colossians 3 verse 13 reads, ‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’

i am not convinced that ‘forgive and forget’ is a biblical concept altho many people quote it as if it is… for me the idea that God has forgiven my sin and then developed some kind of universal amnesia is a lot less exciting than the picture of a God who although He remembers and knows the various ways i have let Him down and hurt other people [both by what i have done and also by that which i have failed to do] chooses to not hold that against me and loves and treats me as if those things never happened.

the next time i mess up, he doesn’t bring out the list and remind me that this is simply one more time that i have failed Him.

the enemy does. through guilt and the wagging finger of ‘you’re no good! this is who you are! the sin defines you!’ he will point and prod and constantly bring up failures from the past to try and let this be the one that keeps you down.

and i do. one of the biggest ways in which we punish when we ‘forgive’ is to bring up all the crud from the past and wave it in the person’s face who has just wronged us as if to say with the enemy, ‘this is who you are. i knew you’d mess up again. you just can’t help it can you?’ which, when you take time to think about it is truly horrible. to be honest, a lot of it feels like self-protection – a wrong has been committed and if i can’t prove how and why this is your fault then i am going to have to take responsibility that it might just be mine.

a while back i looked at how my yes can sound very much like a no [which is about as helpful as receiving a no and possibly even worse] and i think this statement of ‘Forgive without punishing’ aligns itself closely alongside that idea. if i forgive you, but you feel like crap as a result of it, then i may need to relook at whether i have forgiven you at all.

i am reminded of Jesus and the woman caught in sin in John 8.1-11 which ends:

‘Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”’

This story has both the lack of condemnation as well as the call to live a better life. She doesn’t leave feeling like her sin was ok, but she also doesn’t leave feeling condemned at all and in the context of the whole story it is the act of Jesus’ compassion that you feel will stick with her more than any focus on the sin.

So, forgive and forget? Not so sure. But forgive and do not continue to hold it against. Forgive and in the moment of forgiveness let them walk away with the understanding of Love and Grace and Mercy and not condemnation or guilt. Forgive and choose to seek positive relationship with. Forgive and remember to examine your heart and actions for the areas where you might need to be forgiven.

That original verse comes in the middle of two others which i feel fit so well together so let us end with that, and as i look to forgive without punishing, may i seek to always remember what it looks like when God forgives me, and may my forgiveness always be bound together in Love:

‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’ [Colossians 3.12-14]

to continue to the promise without forgetting way, go here.