Is there a difference between God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of each other? Ponder with me…
In a familiar verse, Scripture says that to God, our sins are as far apart as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Then these verses:
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
(Isaiah 43:25, NIV)
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:34b, also Hebrews 8:12, NIV)
In the margin of my Bible next to these verses, I wrote:
“Don’t hold against” – God doesn’t hold our sin against us – the penalty was paid by Jesus
“Choose to bring up no more” – God chooses not to remind us of our past sin or look at it
If someone sins against us today, do our thoughts immediately go to how they hurt us in that same way in the past? Do we then choose to bring up those times, and hold that past sin against them?
I thought about how many times Don and I stumble through the same hurtful things, and the same forgiveness of said things. In the process, the actions we repeatedly stumble over come out in hastily spoken, hurtful language like “you never…” or “you always…”.
Even though we forgive each other, seems we don’t forget. Then we act like our accuser, the devil, and feel it our duty to remind them that they have failed, yet again.
How do we stop the cycle? Can we forgive without forgetting?
Back to the verses in Isaiah and Jeremiah. I can’t comprehend at this moment what it’s like to “remember sin no more”. As I ponder, I realize that of course God doesn’t “forget” as *we* forget – He is omniscient, knows and sees everything back and forward into eternity! But He chooses to see us through the redemption of His son Jesus, not through the filter of our sins. He looks at us with love, and puts Jesus between Him and our sin.
So for us, maybe it’s not about completely forgetting the bad, but rather choosing not to focus on it or speak it out in moments of hurt and anger. Maybe as we choose to forgive regardless of how we feel, and if we choose to ask God to help us see the person through His eyes, we can “remember no more” as God remembers no more: see the person as a redeemed child of God, and love and forgive them as we are loved and forgiven by God.
And we need to remember that Jesus already paid the price for all sins because God loves us immensely and knew we would all fail at the same things over and over again.
Bottom line: Forgiveness is a choice, no matter what we forget or remember.
Lord, I pray you help us all to grow in our ability to forgive and love those who hurt us. I pray you put a guard over our mouths that we might not sin against you. Teach us your ways, help us to choose what honors you and brings life to ourselves and others.
In Jesus’ name, amen!