Guilt and shame cause addiction. They also walk together in causing depression and despair. Forgiving and forgetting – with the full understanding of what both words truly mean – have everything to do with this. Let’s look at what our Master, Jesus, has to say about this when Peter asked this question, in Matthew 18:21-22 …….
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
What do we read from His Words and what do we read between the lines? Clearly, Jesus says that we need to keep forgiving; however, as many times as He tells us to forgive, those times come to an end. Simple math tells us that the number of times we need to forgive someone comes to 490. So, is that a literal amount of times that we keep a note of in our little forgiveness notebook, or, does it mean to keep forgiving without counting the number of times we forgive? After all, constantly writing this down can be annoying and with probably errors. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this; however, my personal opinion is that we just keep forgiving. Jesus also says in Matthew 6:15 …….
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
In this passage, there is no number set on how many times we must forgive. We always need to do exhaustive research by connecting other Scriptures in order to get the true meaning of any verses or passages. My personal conclusion is that we must always forgive in order to be forgiven. So, does forgetting always follow forgiving?
My next question is, what about forgetting the things that were done against us? Now, that’s a horse of another color! Jesus also says , in Matthew 7:6 …….
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Scripture is deeply multi-layered and usually has many applications. One of the meanings of the above Scripture warns us that there is a certain point in time that we must protect ourselves from ongoing hurt and abuse. When it’s been too much, we shut down. When we shut down, we are rendered useless to God, ourselves and others. We don’t want to go to that dark place. That’s the darkness when we become vulnerable to doing and thinking dark things.
No longer casting our pearls before swine is a point in time when we come to the harsh realization that we’ve been beaten each and every time we trust this person. So, we need to stop thinking that this time it will be different. We can predict future behavior by past behavior unless there is a dramatic event that radically changes someone. We must continue to hold on to forgiveness, as forgiveness is something that exists between our Heavenly Father and us. It sets us free. Forgetting, however, may be a different thing. The ability to remember can actually be a protective shield for us. There comes a point in time, however, when we feel as though we are so badly bruised that we just cannot take another blow. That is the point, in my humble opinion, when we no longer cast our pearls before that swine (person). It stops so that we can recover and re-fuel. It becomes a time of healing… retrospection… introspection… and talking with the Lord. We must, however, make certain that this person has truly harmed us and it’s not our biased perception. We cannot disconnect from someone just because we don’t like a few things they do, or the color of their hair, or because we are thin skinned and take something they say or do as offensive. We need to make certain the the harm they keep doing to to us is truly ungodly and may even border on criminal. We must also figure into this equation whether this person is a spouse… a child… a parent… or someone similar. For those people in our lives, we need to seek Godly counsel in order to move forward together or separately. A husband or wife who are both in Christ is yet another scenario. God HATES divorce, so we must work especially hard to ‘fix’ a relationship, and each person independently, involved in that marriage so that our relationship here mirrors our marriage to Jesus in eternity.
Bringing it home
As Christians, we are held to a higher level of accountability – to God, to friends, to family, to co-workers, and even to strangers. We must seek God in all areas of forgiveness and being able to forget. There is no one answer that covers all situations. Here, I have presented some ideas and scenarios; however, you need to dig deeply for each and every situation before you consider anyone to be ‘swine’. Yes, life as a believer can, at times, be even more complicated that life as a non-believer. We are accountable to God and must take that seriously.
Never live your life so that you have regrets.
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