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Forgive and Forget: The Christian Way of Life

forgive and forget

Forgive and Forget when people wrong you. Holding on to offenses only harms you, not them. To forgive and forget is a choice that we make. The choice to forgive and forget must be made on purpose. And it must be made independent of whether we feel better about the situation that offended us or not.

During Date Night, my wife and I watched a movie called 50 First Dates. One of the supporting characters in the movie was nicknamed 10 Second Ted. 10 Second Ted was a patient in a mental hospital.

What made Ted unique was that he was only able to remember 10 seconds of his past. His mind ran on a continuous loop, storing only 10 seconds of past information.

Develop short term memory when offended. Learn to live the forgive and forget lifestyle and refuse to hold on to offenses.

One funny scene from the movie shows Ted enthusiastically introducing himself to another character in the movie. The other character immediately begins verbally abusing Ted. But by the time Ted starts to get angry over the verbal assault, all the offenses are erased from his mind.

With all offenses forgotten, Ted begins introducing himself once again. He had the same upbeat, sincere attitude that he began the conversation with 10 seconds earlier.

How great it would be if we as Christians could adopt some of the “mental deficiencies” that Ted had. Imagine being able to forgive and forget like Ted was able to in the movie.

Or imagine being able to acknowledge our sins. Confess them before God according to 1 John 1:9. Then move on, living life free from the guilt, shame and condemnation of our own offenses.

As a Police Officer, I wrote plenty of tickets over my 17 year career. I’d like to think that I was fair in my judgments regarding those who broke the law. In the overwhelming majority of my traffic stops, I let the motorist off with a warning. Those who received warnings instead of tickets were very appreciative.

These drivers acknowledged that they broke the law and “forgiveness” was extended to them. I doubt if they went the rest of the day under a cloud of guilt for driving over the speed limit.

In fact, most of us would say that there is something wrong with a person who was feeling bad about a traffic violation that took place a week, month, or even a year ago that they were forgiven of.

But often when we sin, and are forgiven by God of that sin, we let the enemy rub our faces in it and keep us from enjoying the grace of God that is extended to us. 1 John 1:9 tells us how to handle our sins.

In fact God tells us that He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. When you sin, run to God not away from Him. Let Him cleanse you in His blood. And after taking care of your sin with God, take the all-important moment to forgive yourself.

Then be like Ted and FORGET ABOUT IT. No sin is so terrible that God’s grace won’t cover it. Don’t allow the enemy to keep you living in a state of broken relationship with God. Isaiah 43:25

Learn to Live the Forgive and Forget Lifestyle

Develop short term memory when offended. Learn to live the forgive and forget lifestyle. Refuse to hold on to offenses. And most importantly, begin to live the forgive and forget lifestyle where your own sin is concerned.

As your offenses are dealt with by God, He remembers them no more. Follow His example. Once forgiven, learn to forget.

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  1. "Taking care of our sin" – means using the word "repentance". NO soft pedaling here… we must repent and turn away from the sin and ask forgiveness. Many of the "seeker-sensitive" "evangelical" churches do not emphasize the awfulness of sin and the power it holds over unbelievers. The whole Gospel must include repentance and a turning away from the sin and seeking after God and His righteousness.

  2. Holding a grudge against someone is something I struggle with daily. But by keeping these grudges, it's develops an anger in you that festers and grows causing you to live from the past and not in the present

    • Thanks for the comment Cuan. Grudge holding is something that I've had to battle myself. I can remember times when I would plot ways in which to "even the score" when people offended me. It's a sick way of thinking. The character in the movie that I spoke about in the article above really does help me with letting offenses roll off my back. All I need to do is think of old 10 Second Ted. Then I laugh, and let go of whatever childish offense was attempting to snare me…..

  3. Forgiveness doesn't mean that person gets off the hook. God is a just God as well as a forgiving God. It just means that we don't have to carry a grudge. Forgiving doesn't mean that you can fully trust that person again, it just means, you put your trust in God.

  4. I believe in forgiving a person who has wronged us, but I don't believe in forgetting. I agree with the fact that we forgive for our benefit, but sometimes we can forget to our detriment.

    If, in the movie that you are talking about, someone was stealing Ted's money, by the end of the movie he would likely be penniless and destitute. Yes, it is good to forgive, but in this world, just "forgetting" is a dangerous thing.

    I mean, in some instances, one can chose to forget about something if one has been slighted in some SMALL way and has decided that they forgive the person who has trespassed against them, but what if it is not small?

    Are we to forget that the most recent time one was in a relationship with a certain person, domestic violence occurred? Is one to forget all about that if the abuser says they want to resume the relationship?

    Are we to forget that the most recent time this person was in my house, they stole my car keys and subsequently my car?

    Yes, forgiveness is good. It helps us to move on. But forgetting all about what someone has done can lead to that very thing being done to you all over again.

    • Good Morning!
      Thank you for your comments. I think sometimes when we as Christians use the term “Forgive and Forget”, people think we mean “Forgive, then allow ourselves to remain open to being taken advantage of again”. I absolutely believe we should take any means necessary to protect ourselves and our families from theft or abuse of any kind. Because we love, we can forgive, protect, pray for, and then forget, meaning dropping all grudges or ill will toward another….your thoughts?

      • My thoughts: yes, you are right, grudges can be (and need to be for peace of mind) dropped. I will always believe, and from what you wrote in reply, I feel you agree with, that as I stated in my first post here, certain wrongs should not be forgotten.

        Case in point, King Saul's attitude toward young David, as told in one of the books of Samuel.

        David never forgot that Saul was trying to kill him, however David did not hold a grudge against Saul, he loved Saul, and would not kill him even when he had the chance.

        So, even in the gravest circumstances, we are shown via that story, that no grudge need be present, however, don't forget about the fact that this man tried to run you through with a javelin a while back. Keep your guard up.

        In your original post, it sounded as if you were advising that we should just "forget" about wrongs, as opposed to what you said in a few replies, including this past one to me, where you just seem to mean to drop the grudge. But "drop the grudge" and "forget about it" are two different things. The word is God, yes?

        • I believe we are children of God. As most children, we model the behavior of our Father. Our Father does not remember our sins and trespasses (thank goodness He doesn’t!), therefore I will not remember sins committed against me. If something is not remembered, it’s forgotten. Does that mean that I won’t take steps (legally or otherwise) to protect myself from future harm from a known individual? Absolutely not. Once again I thank you for your comments…
          Have an amazing day!

          • From a known individual? So, do you allow said person into your house over and over again. If he steals from you today, do you let him back in tomorrow? And the next day, and the next?

            And how does one take legal action against something they have forgotten all about?

          • When I use the word "forget", I don't literally mean wipe all memory of the offense and the offender from the mind (as the story in the post may have eluded to). What I mean by "forget" is not to hold the offense against the individual.

            May I add an addendum to the phrase “Forgive and Forget?” How about forgive, forget, and then protect. I don’t by any means believe that as Christians we have to be doormats. If wronged, I believe in personal forgiveness of the offender. However I also believe in protecting myself from further offense in the future.

            I might also say that while I believe in personal forgiveness of an offense, I believe in justice which should come as a result of established law. If someone breaks established law (spirit of the law), they should be held responsible for their actions.

            Forgiveness is for my sake, not for the offender’s sake. Forgiveness is so that my body won’t be ravished with ulcers because of hate and that my soul won’t be estranged from God because of ill will toward others.

            We could get very deep on this issue. Thanks for your thought provoking comment….

  5. As usual, a great post. I, too, was going to argue the "forget" part… but I see you've already covered that in your comments/replies 🙂 God bless!

  6. Love your practical examples of forgiving, the TV show, the forgiving a traffic ticket..We are called to forgive and forget, and it makes the world a more blessed place!

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