A relatively recent (I think, as compared to the age of the Bible) saying is “forgive and forget”. Whilst Jesus, and the Bible, is big on forgiveness, I do not think it calls on us to forget. Maybe it does but if so, I do not know the passage. Events that happen to us, whether good, bad, accidental or deliberate shape our lives so while we might be able to push things to the back of our minds, it is impossible to forget, even though we forgive.
I believe there are multiple aspects to forgiveness and suggest four:
- Forgiving another
- Forgiving oneself
- Accepting human forgiveness
- Accepting God’s forgiveness; The Grace of God.
perhaps you can think of others?
Forgiving another (1) is, in many circumstances, I think often easier than forgiving oneself and is one of the ways we become more deserving, or at least less undeserving, of God’s grace ourselves.
Forgiving oneself (2) Is perhaps the hardest of all and often when we receive another’s forgiveness (3), it can still be a very long time, sometimes seeming an eternity, before we forgive ourselves.
Accepting God’s forgiveness (4) is getting more than just the forgiveness itself but it is through His grace, given freely with His forgiveness, we find ways and learn to live with the things we have done, for which we need(ed) to seek forgiveness.
Matthew 5: 23-24 (NIV) tells us:
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift [to God].
The passage tells us we must first seek forgiveness from those we have wronged, before seeking forgiveness from God. It made me wonder if there might be situations where it is acceptable to seek forgiveness only from God, and not from your ‘brother’ ? Maybe there are situations where seeking forgiveness from your ‘brother’ could make a situation worse? I do not know the answer. Maybe you have your own ideas about forgiveness.
Whatever your views: Forgiveness does not mean there are no consequences.