Don't Forget to Remember to Forget
by Gary Kurz
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One of the greatest aspects of God's forgiveness for sins in Christ is the fact that he also forgets them. We have the assurance that he remembers our sins no more. He purposely and permanently puts them out of his memory and never revisits them.
We can conclude from God's example, that sometimes it is better to forget than to remember. It is apparent that Joseph understood this as Moses records in Genesis 41:51 "And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget…."
Joseph had suffered many terrible injustices in his young life. His own brothers hated him for no reason and sold him into slavery. He was accused of a crime he did not commit. He was thrown into prison for an undetermined amount of time. Surely Joseph could have been justifiably bitter. He could have lamented over all that had befallen him. He could have resented that God allowed great adversity and suffering in his life.
Instead, Joseph reached down inside of himself, where his faith was housed, and found the strength to persevere. In faith, with a grateful heart, he named his son Manasseh, which means "forgetting". He reasoned "for God…hath made me forget". The things that had befallen him could have weighed heavily on his heart, but God had given him grace to not only forgive the wrongs that were done to him, but to forget them.
A Pastor I knew sold an automobile to a man. He received half the payment upfront, with the remainder to follow a month later. When he went to the man's house to receive the second and final installment, the man said "I am not paying you another dime. I have the car and I am keeping it". He then slammed the door in the Pastor's face.
Several parishioners advised the Pastor to take legal action. A lawyer friend offered to take the case to Small Claims Court without charging the Pastor for his services. The Pastor politely declined and explained that the few thousand dollars owed did not outweigh the worth of the man's soul and that it was better to forgive and forget the debt than to injure his Christian testimony to the man.
Several months later, this Pastor was called upon to help a needy family in the community. It turned out to be the family of the man who had misappropriated his automobile. When the door opened to the Pastor's knock, the man immediately recognized him and expected that the Pastor might recognize him and turn around and leave.
Instead, the humble man of God greeted him with a warm smile and brief embrace. As the Pastor reached into his pocket for the church check, he looked into the man's face and hesitated for a moment. The man thought that surely the Pastor had just recognized him and had changed his mind about helping. He knew this was a bad idea, asking the man he had cheated to help. He might as well just tell him to leave.
Before the man could speak however, the Pastor said in a soothing voice, "You know, I just don't think my church is doing enough to help. Please allow me to add my personal check to this amount. I am sure you and your family can use it."
As the Pastor wrote out another check, the man fell under heavy conviction and wondered what to say. Surely this Pastor was trying to make him feel guilty. Surely this act of kindness was nothing more than a ploy to work on his conscience.
While the man was pondering these things, the Pastor finished writing the check out and handed both checks to him. The Pastor then asked if he could pray for the family. The man knew that the prayer was going to be a sermon in disguise about fairness and doing right, but he did not know how to say "no" after the kindness he was shown; and so he reluctantly acknowledged "sure, that would be okay."
The Pastor bowed his head and asked the Lord's blessing upon the man, his family and their home. He asked the Lord to bless them financially and to lead the church to know if there was anything else they could do for them. He closed by asking the Lord to draw this family near to him. There was no mention of the automobile, no sermon, no ulterior motive. It was as if the Pastor had completely forgotten the wrong this man had done to him.
A few weeks later, the man and his family came to visit the church that had paid their debts. They heard the gospel message. They heard how the Lord Jesus Christ had paid another debt that they had not even known about. The whole family walked the aisle and received the Lord.
Like Joseph, this Pastor had emulated his Lord and added forgetfulness to his forgiveness. Had he held on to the terrible injustice this man had done, he would never have been able to be a witness to the love and mercy of the Lord. By forgetting, God was able to use him in a tremendous way
Forgetting should be a word used often in the Christian vocabulary. It is far better to forget and forgive than it is to remember and resent.
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Gary Kurz: This article made me think deeply about my own convictions to forgive and forget. Thank you, Dollene