We’ve all heard someone speak on forgiveness at some point in our lives. For Christians, I would submit that it is statistically impossible not to have heard something on this subject. If you read scripture at all (and you should every single day), you’ll find it all throughout Jesus’ ministry as well as the rest of the New Testament. Even the Old Testament gives many examples of forgiveness in some form or another. It is a commandment that we are given by Jesus Himself.
So I ask you, then, how many times have you heard someone say, “I will forgive, but I won’t forget”? How many times have you and I failed in this area? Why is it that this seemingly simple instruction proves to be one of the biggest hurdles that we often face? How does the devil manage to gain such a stronghold in our lives through unforgiveness?
Ephesians 4:32 tells us:
32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (NKJV)
Jesus said that we are to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22)—a metaphor for “infinite” forgiveness, and He said that if we do not forgive, then our own failures cannot be forgiven (Matthew 18:35). That particular verse also specifically says that we are to forgive “from the heart.” In 1 Corinthians 13 we read:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (NKJV)