Friday, October 27, 2017

Does forgiving also entail forgetting?

Every once in awhile, someone asks a question about forgiveness. They want to know whether forgiving also means we have to forget. This is my response;

First of all, "forgiving" does NOT mean "forgetting." Forgiving means to recognize that WE have also done things we're not proud of, and we have no business holding someone else's sin against them. That doesn't mean we have to love or even like them, or ever see them again. it simply means, "let go" so YOU can be free of the psychological hold they have on you.

YHWH's command to forgive, is many-fold:

YHWH says HE will personally deal with our enemies (Deut. 32:35, Romans 12:17-19). This means we should never react with hatred, repaying hurt with hurt. As human being who are commanded to love each other, we have no right to repay in kind.

"But God says, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!" ...

Let's take a look at that passage to see what it really says:

Matthew 5: 38. You have heard that it has been said that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth[1]. 39. But I say to you that you should not stand against evil[2], but who hits you upon your right cheek, turn also to him the other. 40. And he that desires to go to court with you and take your coat, leave to him also your cloak.

41. He that compels you to go one mile, go two with him. 42. He that asks you to give to him and he desires to borrow from you, you should not deny him. 43. You have heard that it has been said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy[3]. 44. But I say to you to love your enemies and bless those that curse you and do that which is pleasing to those who hate you. And pray for those that take you by force and persecute you. 45. So that you may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven. (AENT)

FOOTNOTES:

[1] When Y’shua says, “you have heard it said” he refers to oral tradition; when he says “it is written” he refers to Scripture. The matter of an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, according to Torah, refers to fair restitution; not literally taking out an eye or tooth. The amount to be restored must be commensurate to the loss; the loss of an eye must be rewarded the value of an eye. See Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21. Torahless ultra-religious judges or pagan cultures opted for barbaric punishment as crime for crime, however this is not a Torah principle.

[2] Do not react with evil towards evil, rather let patience and temperance prevail when accosted by evil doers. Torah instructs the strong to protect the weak, Deut 22:27. Ya’akov teaches to “stand firm” against Satan, James 4:7. Paul teaches to stand against the strategies of the Accuser in Ephesians 6:11; neither does he mince words in Acts 13:10. Isaiah 14:15 states that haSatan will be brought down to hell and a slaughter is prepared for his children (verse 21). Rev 20:10 promises a date for Satan in the lake of fire, in the meantime we are to recognize that our battles are not against flesh and blood, and to act accordingly.

[3] Y’shua says, “You have heard that it has been said,” implying “oral law.” Torah (Leviticus 19:18) does NOT teach that anyone should hate their enemy; it teaches “You shall not avenge nor bear any grudge, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Returning to the subject at hand:

Holding grudges only serves to eat us up, make us suspicious of everyone and wastes our time because we end up thinking of that person{s) more than we need to. It eats away at our soul and at the very fiber of our being, and causes us to become bitter.

Turning over to Him those who have hurt us, relieves us of the need and responsibility to "repay" them; which consequently, releases us from the psychological hold they have over us.

We should never "forget" what happened, but we also shouldn't hurt ourselves by clinging to the hatred for the one who hurt us. You see, everything (including bad things) that happen to us, serves to help us learn and grow. We are constantly learning.

We learn that touching a hot stove hurts, and so we remember not to do it again. We learn that our words can hurt people; and so we remember to not say them again (even if they were said in jest). We learn from the actions (whatever that might have entailed) of certain people who have hurt us, that behavior such as what they exhibited HURTS - which, in turn, helps us learn to recognize and discern, and keeps us from becoming like them: In other words:

(1) Through the pain they caused us, we can learn to recognize that our own actions might have done something to cause their action/reaction, and we can immediately apologize. (2) We can learn to recognize that a person is toxic and prone to make us miserable, and so we block them from our life; thus, freeing ourselves from an abusive relationship. And: (3) We "hand it over to YHWH" while forgiving the person in our own mind, and consequently, release ourselves from the hold they have on us.

No, we don't need to forget; but we DO need to recognize that clinging to the memory and hating that person serves no purpose. Concentrate, instead, on the positive - that the person is forgiven and you've "kissed and made up": OR that they are no longer a part of your life and can no longer cause anymore hurt, and YOU have moved on and learned some valuable lessons, in the process!

Lastly, "forgiving" someone may lead to reconciliation - which is YHWH's preferred outcome. But if it cannot happen, then "letting go, and letting God handle it" is the best solution for all concerned. Live your life and go on; never giving the perp another thought because YHWH/Y'shua's got your back!

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