The phrase “forgive and forget” has been in the English language for a long time. An older member of the church once commented to me concerning forgiving and forgetting, “I don’t know which is harder to do!” As difficult as they are for us humans to do–do them we must if we are to have forgiveness from our Father in heaven (Matt. 6:15).
Forgiveness in the original language of the Bible has the connotation of “to send away.” For example in Micah 7:19 we read that God will “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” When God forgives us, He sends our sins (and the guilt of them) so far away, they can never be reached again. Truly God is the epitome of “forgive and forget.”
But I wish to examine the phrase “forgive and forget” from another angle. I noticed that inside the words “forgive” and “forget” are the words “give” and “get.” In other words, to truly get the benefits that forgiveness can bring, we must first give something.
For those of us desiring the forgiveness of another, we need to give that person a truly repentant attitude and lifestyle (Matt. 3:8). Then and only then will we get reconciliation with our brother or sister in Christ.
For those of us needing to forgive another, we need to give an attitude of compassion and willingness to work out/forget our differences toward the one who has wronged us (Matt. 5:23-24). Only then will we get harmony with our brother or sister in Christ. As a wise person once noted, we may not be able to totally forget that we were wronged, but we can act like it never happened.
The Christians at Corinth were to forgive a brother who obviously had repented. Paul writes to them “you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him” (2 Cor. 2:7-8). The wayward brother was giving to them, and now they to give, as well. They were to confirm their
love once again for him by forgiving and comforting him. All involved would benefit from this.
So let’s always remember to “forgive and forget.” And let’s always remember that to get, we must first give.