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Why Forgive and Forget? PDF  | Print |  E-mail
    Why Must We Forgive and Forget?

    © Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD
    Director, Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
    Author, Patience in the Midst of Trials and Afflictions

It is said that the most forgiven people should be the most forgiving people. And yet, this is easier said than done. Some of us are too hurt to forgive those who have wounded us. Let me illustrate what I mean with the following concrete examples that have come to my notice. I have personalized each example so that you can ask yourself this specific question: “Why and how can I forgive and forget this particular person?”

Case Histories

--Your closest friend wants your position; she lies and spreads false rumors about you, ruining  your good reputation, and takes your position or job. After you’ve endured 7 years of humiliation, loss, and pain that resulted in a severe emotional breakdown and rehabilitation at a mental institution, your friend comes back to you quietly, saying she is sorry.

--Your employee steals thousands of your company’s money and runs away from the law by fleeing to a foreign country. In the far-away country, he squanders the thousands of dollars, and after three years he comes back, saying he is sorry.

--Your brother has been killed by a hit-and-run driver, who happens to be your neighbor. But the perpetrator  is unrepentant, lies about it and wants you to treat him as though he wasn’t responsible for the death of your brother.

--Your family friend from another ethnic group has an affair with your otherwise faithful wife. She becomes pregnant and wants you to take her back, forgive the other man involved, and accept the child (with obvious external characteristics of another race) as your very own.

--In a racial/tribal conflict, your fellow church member leads a mob of gangsters (vigilantes) to kill your husband and children. They leave you for dead after you had sustained severe wounds and fallen unconscious. The assailants then proceed to loot the belongings of your family. After being miraculously rescued and months of hospital care you recover from your comatose condition. Then in a market place you come face to face with the church member who led the murderers to your home.  Fearing mob-justice, your assailant pleads for forgiveness.

    Why Must We Forgive and Forget?

How should we deal with the anger, pain, and hurt resulting from the real situations mentioned above? How should we treat that person who has seriously hurt us, and yet comes back claiming he is sorry? What about the ones who still remain unrepentant? Are we really to forgive them also?

For those whose wounds of hurt are still fresh, these questions are not  theoretical ones. Even when we say we have forgiven, we sometimes don’t want to have anything to do with those who have hurt us.

So I ask again, why must we let go our hurt and bitterness for the joy of reconciliation and peace?  Why must we forgive and forget? 

The Bible offers us several reasons why we should forgive those who have wronged us. Because of space limitations, I would summarize these at the end of this article. In this article, however, I would concentrate on what I consider to be the most compelling reason why we must forgive and forget—namely, for Christ sake. This motivation is remarkably captured in a story found in the ninth chapter of the second book of Samuel.

If you want to know why you have to forgive and show kindness to the person who has terribly hurt you, look at why and how King David treated Mephibosheth. Then you will get a glimpse into the heart of God, and this will challenge you to forgive—even your worst enemy.

    David and Mephibosheth

A Frantic Quest. 2 Samuel chapter begins with a frantic question from King David: “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?” (v. 1).

Apparently king David had been searching for someone from the household of his worse enemy Saul. The king wants to show kindness to Saul’s descendants “for Jonathan’s sake.” Though there seems to be no meaningful response to his quest, David does not give up.

In verse 3 he repeats the question and explains the nature of kindness he wants to bestow on such an one: “And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him?”

What David did not know was that there was only one descendant of Saul left. He was a cripple named Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan and the grandson of king Saul.  At the time of David’s inquiry, Mephibosheth was a married man living in exile in a far-away town called Lo-debar. The Bible offers only a brief account of how he became crippled.

The Fall, Escape and Exile.  One day, when Mephibosheth was only five years old, word got to the palace that in the war between the Israelites and the Philistines at Jezreel, king Saul had been killed. Prince Jonathan had also been killed. In fact, virtually all of Saul’s children and grandchildren had been wiped out. Saul had a very large family (cf. 1 Chron 8:33), enough to replenish a country; but it was virtually wiped out literally overnight.

One can only imagine how the National Security Council in Saul’s day handled this crisis. I suspect that they quickly convened an emergency session in the Palace  to decide what to do. Who would be asked to hold the rein of affairs? What should they do, especially given the fact that David and his band of soldiers were in the hills and could take advantage of the tragedy and take over power?

With the sudden change of  mood in the palace, Mephibosheth, no doubt, felt that something was wrong.  Perhaps in apprehension or fear, he cries for his daddy and grandpa. Yet, no one was ready to disclose the facts to this 5-year old boy—no one, except the royal nurse.

I can almost hear the nurse explaining to Mephibosheth: “Daddy and grandpa cannot come home tonight because they went to fight so you could become the next king of Israel. . . . But we have to leave the palace immediately, if we are to avoid being killed by David and his men.”

No doubt, Mephibosheth couldn’t understand why David would want to kill him. Was not David his daddy’s best friend? The royal nurse explained: “David hates you; he wants to kill you and take for himself the kingdom that belongs to your father and grandfather. He hates you because your grand father Saul hated him and sought to kill him on several occasions. Now that your dad and grandpa are dead, David will seek a revenge by killing you. . . .  We have leave right away. . .”

We don’t really know what happened in the palace. All we know for sure is what the Bible says in 2 Samuel 4:4: “And Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.”

Apparently in the haste of the nurse to flee with Mephibosheth, he fell, perhaps injuring the spinal chord of the young boy, and  paralyzing or crippling him for life.  Utilizing maximum secrecy, and using (perhaps) a fake passport and ID documents, Mephibosheth was sent into exile in Lo-debar. 

I can imagine the nurse charging him never to disclose his true identity, but that one day at the appropriate time he would be brought back into Israel to claim his rightful place on the throne. Until that time, he was to flee for his life whenever he heard that David and his men were looking for him.

Thus, from the age of five, Mephibosheth was brainwashed into believing that David hated him and sought to do him harm. For the remainder of his life, Mephibosheth lived in obscurity, blaming and hating David for all the misfortunes of his life.

A Long Search.  Meanwhile back in Israel, king David was on the throne. Since his enthronement, he had one overriding concern.  It was not just consolidating his power, but to offer special honor to the descendants of his arch enemy Saul.

David’s search for Mephibosheth took several years, a great while after his accession to the throne.  Observe that Mephibosheth was 5 years old when Saul died.  When Mephibosheth was finally found, he had a son (2 Sam 9:12).  Now, if we assume that he was 30 years when he got married, and had his son a year afterwards, it took at least some 25 years for David to find Mephibosheth. 

For 25 long years the king was thinking, inquiring, and searching for this lost, crippled son! If David lived in our day, I can imagine him using all the intelligence apparatus----such as the United State’s CIA, FBI, the UK’s MI3 and Scotland Yard, the Israeli Mossad, the Interpol, and others.---to look for Mephibosheth.

Face to Face Encounter. At long last, the Bible tells us, David’s security agents identified Ziba, a former employee of king Saul, who help to locate the whereabouts of Mephibosheth (cf. 2 Sam 9:3-5)

The Bible’s account of the meeting of Mephibosheth and David reveals how hatred was swallowed by love, and fear by trust. It is worth reading it in its entirety:

2Sa 9:6  Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!
2Sa 9:7  And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.
2Sa 9:8  And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?
2Sa 9:9  Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.
2Sa 9:10  Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.
2Sa 9:11  Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king's sons.
2Sa 9:12  And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth.
2Sa 9:13  So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet.

In case you missed it, “for Jonathan’s sake,” David takes his avowed enemy, restores to him the estate of his grandfather Saul, allows him to live with him in the palace, treating him like one of his own sons! Though Mephibosheth was lame and unsightly, and does not seem to have any great fitness for service, yet, for his good father’s sake, David took him to be one of his family—even risking a future usurpation!

    The Gospel of Salvation

This account of David’s treatment of Mephibosheth teaches many important lessons. First, it is one of the greatest illustrations of the gospel.  It reveals something about the riches of God’s grace.

In this real story, David represents God the Father, sitting on His throne and seeking to show kindness to us sinners. Though we hate Him, misconstrue His intentions and plans towards us, deny Him, and fail Him over and over again, yet He still loves us and is ever searching for us to save us. “Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1).

Mephibosheth represents us—lost humanity, crippled by sin. Like Saul’s grandson, we also fell—not in a palace, but a garden called Eden (Gen 3). Because of the Fall, we cannot walk straight, think straight, talk straight, nor do anything straight. We hate God, distrust Him, and disbelieve His Word. Far away from the Father’s home, we live in the obscurity and shadow of sin. The Bible says, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

Though created in the image of God and, hence, from the Royal family, we are so degraded in sin that we feel like we are “dead dogs.”  Indeed, we deserve death, for “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23a). Notice, however, that this text does not end there. It continues: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23b).

Jonathan represents our Lord Jesus Christ.  The only way we Mephibosheths can be saved is through Him. The name Jonathan means “gift of God.” It is not surprising that the greatest Gift God has given humanity is His Son. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16; emphasis mine).

Thus, any time we read the phrase “for Jonathan’s sake” in the 2 Samuel 9 account, it really means “for Christ’s sake.” The only reason why God shows kindness to us, pardoning us of our sins and making us His sons and daughters is for Christ’s sake.  “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). 

It is for Christ’s sake that we Mephibosheths are adopted as sons and daughters of God (John 1:12). And it is also for Christ’s sake that we have the assurance of eternal life, the promise of His indwelling Spirit and the hope of living forever with God (1 John 5:13; cf. Rom 8:14-39).

    Our Ethical Obligation to Others

The second lesson we learn from the account of David’s treatment of Mephibosheth is our ethical obligation to others. For some 25 long years, king David was frantically searching for a descendant of his enemy that he might show kindness to him. Why was David so eager to show kindness?

The answer is found in 1 Samuel 20:11-17.  There we read that David made a promise to Jonathan that one day he (David) would pay back the kindness he himself had received from Jonathan. David could have satisfied his conscience saying Jonathan was dead or that Mephibosheth never requested for help. But No.  The king inquired, and searched, until he found Mephibosheth. 

Though Mephibosesheth never requested help, though he hated David, and thus didn’t deserve help, yet David showed kindness to him “for Jonathan’s sake.” Mephibosheth received favor on account of the merit of Jonathan. This is grace at work.  Hence for 25 years the king was thinking, inquiring, and searching for this lost, crippled son! .

We also owe a debt to someone, and it is our moral duty to look for that person and do kindness to him. How long have you been searching for that one person you owe a debt to?----a grade school teacher, nurse, aunt, grandmother, pastor, friend, etc.

Is there a promise you have long neglected?  Now is the time to make good on it.  Better late than never.

    The Motivation to Forgive

The third lesson we can learn from David’s treatment of Mephibosheth is the motivation to forgive. Why would David show kindness to Mephibosheth, making him one of the king’s sons and allowing him to eat bread continually at the king’s table? Why would he adopt as his son one who hated him and one who could potentially work to undermine and usurp his government? Why did David forgive the grandchild of his avowed enemy?

The answer is twice repeated in the 2 Samuel 9 passage: “For Jonathan’s sake” (v. 1); “For Jonathan thy father’s sake” (v. 7).

In the phrase “for Jonathan’s sake,” we find the most compelling motivation to forgive others. As we mentioned earlier, this phrase means “for Christ sake.” In other words if we are looking for a reason to forgive and forget the ills we have suffered at the hands of others, the answer lies in what Jesus, our divine Jonathan, has done for us. Those who understand the price Christ paid on Calvary for their sins will not stubbornly withhold forgiveness from those who have hurt them.

This is why the most forgiven person ought to be the most forgiving individual. Though it hurts to forgive, the Bible urges us—for Christ’s sake—to do the unthinkable.

Observe how often the expression “for Christ’s sake” appears in the New Testament:

1. We must forgive one another for Christ’s sake: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:32)

2. We must pray for one another for Christ’s sake: “For the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me” (Rom 15:30).

3. We must become fools in the eyes of others and be despised for Christ’s sake:“We are fools for Christ’s sake; but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised” (1 Cor 4:10).

4. We must preach the truth and be true servants of God for Christ’s sake:“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor 4:5).

5. We must patiently endure the trials of life for Christ’s sake: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor12:10).

6. We must be willing to suffer for Christ’s sake:“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Phi 1:29).

7. We must suffer persecution for Christ’s (church’s) sake: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which  is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Col 1:24).

8. We must be willing to die for Christ’s sake: “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” ( 2 Cor 4:11).

9. We must submit to good ordinances of those in power for Christ’s sake: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme” (1 Pet 2:13).

10. The Lord will richly bless and save us if we endure unto the end for Christ’s sake: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:11; cf. Lk 6:22). “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:13).

It is obvious from the above passages that the most compelling reason to do the right thing, including forgiving those who have hurt us, is “for Christ’s sake.” The more we understand the amazing grace of God’s forgiveness, the more our motivation to forgive others. The basis and motivation to forgive others is what Christ has done for us.

    What It Means to Forgive & Forget

Forgiveness is a conscious decision of the mind and heart to freely remit the offense of another, regardless of the cost. Unfortunately, many of us have difficulty forgiving others because we confuse forgiveness with what are not. For example:

1. Forgiveness is not excusing the wrong conduct of others. Excusing says, “That’s okay,” and seems to suggest that what a person did wasn’t really wrong or that he or she couldn’t help it. But forgiveness is not excusing or justifying the wrong conduct of a person. On the contrary, the very nature of forgiveness suggests that what a person did was wrong and inexcusable. Covering up sin (which is what excusing is) cannot bring about forgiveness. The Bible says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh [them] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). True forgiveness honestly acknowledges that what a person did to us is wrong, but chooses, by the grace of God, to let go.

2. Forgiveness is not weakness. Sometimes, we think that when we forgive others it is a sign of our weakness or cowardice. And who wants to be perceived as an easy pushover or a door mat? The truth, however, is that forgiveness is never borne out of weakness, but rather from a position of strength and power.  It takes a person who is strong in patience and inner strength to forgive. When God chooses to forgive us, it is not because He is powerless. Only those with resolute convictions and sterling character can truly forgive. On the other hand, as long as we choose not to forgive, we become the slaves of those who have hurt us.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgetting is to lose the remembrance or recollection of something. It is a passive process in which the passing of time causes a thing to fade from memory. Forgiving, however, is not the result of amnesia. Instead, it is an active process in which a person makes a conscious choice not to mention, recount, or think about the injury one has suffered from another.

When God says He will “remember your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25), it does not mean He cannot remember our sins, but that He will not remember them. It is a conscious choice on His part not to reckon those sins against us nor take action on them. The good news, however, is that when we make a conscious decision to forgive and to stop dwelling on the offense of others, the Lord works a miracle in us so that the hurt we have suffered lose their bite—to the extent that the painful memories fade away.

Forgiveness is not a feeling—a fleeting emotional experience. It is conscious choice, an act of the will. Forgiveness is a decision not to think, or talk about, or be influenced by the ill-conduct of another.

There are two Greek words that are often translated as “forgive.” The first, aphiemi,  means to let go, release, or remit. It is a term used to describe the full payment or cancellation of a debt (cf. Matt 6:12; 18:27, 32). The other word is charizomai, which means to bestow favor freely or unconditionally. This term suggests that forgiveness is an act of grace. It is undeserved and cannot be earned (Luke 7:42-43; 2 Cor 2:7-10; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13). Both terms imply that the one doing the forgiving suffers some loss or pain. This is what happened on Calvary when our Lord Jesus Christ chose to suffer and die, in order to secure our forgiveness (cf. Isaiah 53:4-6; 1 Pet 1:24-25).

Forgiveness is not a feel-good experience. The choice to let go really hurts. Still one chooses to pay the price. Though forgiveness is not a feeling, and though the decision to forgive hurts, the good news is that this conscious act of the will to forgive also  brings about changes in our feelings. We experience a certain peace and joy for doing God’s will.

    So Why Forgive and Forget?

Our willingness or unwillingness to forgive reveals much about us. Any time we cherish an unforgiving attitude, stubbornly withholding forgiveness from others, let us remember the following facts:

1. Our unforgiving spirit reveals how we want God to treat us. When we get very hurt, we often say things like, “I will never forgive him” or that “though I will forgive, I will never forget what he did to me,” Others say, “I will always stay away or not talk to her again as long as I live.”  What would  happen if God applied the Golden Rule and treats us the same way we treat others? (The Golden Rule, by the way, says in essence, “Do unto others what you want to be done unto you”; see Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31).

How would you feel if, after confessing your sins to the Lord you hear a voice from heaven saying, “I have forgiven you, but I just don’t want to have anything to do with you again”? Or that, the Lord spoke to you audibly: “I have forgiven you, but I will never forget what you did to me.” I don’t think many of will feel secured in that kind of divine forgiveness.

The Scriptures urges us to forgive others, just as God has forgiven us. The Lord has freely forgiven us.  We also must do likewise to others.  “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Eph 4:32). "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Col 3:13).

2. Our unforgiving spirit reveals our un-appreciation of God’s forgiveness. A forgiven Christian is always forgiving. If we don’t forgive others it is an indication that we don’t value Christ’s forgiveness. This fact is remarkably captured in Christ’s parable of the two debtors in Matthew 18:21-35. In that story, one servant owed a king a substantial debt. When the king threatened to sell the servant and his family to pay the debt, the servant pleaded for mercy. The king was “moved with compassion,” had mercy on him and forgave him the debt (v. 27).

Moments later, the forgiven servant saw a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller debt. When he asked for payment, the man asked for time to do so. But the forgiven servant refused and “went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt” (v. 30). When the king heard about this, he summoned the forgiven (but now unforgiving) servant and said: “O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?” (vv. 32-33)  In his anger the king delivered the unforgiving debtor to the jailors.

Jesus concludes the parable with these sobering words: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt 18:35). You see, forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel, and the new birth is nothing other than divine forgiveness doing its life-changing work in the life of the repentant sinner. Those who refuse to forgive put in jeopardy their own forgiven status.

3. Our unforgiving spirit reveals whether or not we shall receive and/or retain our forgiveness. In the teachings of Christ, we learn that unless we forgive, God will not forgive us.  In the Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who tresspass against us. . . .” (Matt 6:12). He continues: “For if ye forgive men their tresspasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your tresspasses” (Matt 6:14-15).

A forgiven person much love much and must show forth the power of Him who has forgiven them. Christ says in Luke 7: 47 (to “sinner” who anointed Him with a precious ointment), "Her sins which are many are forgiven for she loved much. . . ." Simply put, the woman had enormous love for Christ as a result of His forgiveness. It changed her life. This is related to 1 John 4: 19, "We love Him because he first loved us." This 'first love' is the death of Christ as the only basis of God's ability to forgive us. When the sinner realizes this, his heart is broken and he loves in return, to the extent of giving his life to the one who forgave him. When we refuse to forgive as Christ forgave, we deprive people of exposure to the power that can change them!  This is why we will not receive or retain our forgiveness.

4. Our unforgiving spirit tests our love and loyalty to God. The story of Job teaches that our severe trials—including the hurts and tragedies we have suffered---reveal whether or not we love God. When Satan asked “Does Job fear God for nought,” he was in effect saying that Christians cannot continue serving the Lord when they suffer major hurts. Or as he put it, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 2:3-5).

In the great controversy between Christ and Satan, our response to hurts is a vote for or against God. We either glorify God or betray and mock Him by our attitude to adversities inflicted upon us by others. Whether or not we forgive and forget reveals our true love or loyalty to God.

You see, the fundamental issue at stake whenever we face any trials (including hurts, losses, etc.) are these: Will we continue to trust God, believing that He knows what is best for us, and that He has power to sustain and deliver us?  Will we do what He has asked us (in this case forgive others) even in illness, financial crises, embarrassment, pain, disappointment, ridicule, rejection, death, etc. (cf. Job 19:6-27)?  Or will we do His will when things go our way?

Perhaps you have been hurt by someone near or dear—perhaps a relative, co-worker, husband or wife.  The one who has seriously wounded you could even be in the church. You may have been hurt, betrayed, defrauded, humiliated, violated, or wounded by a church member, elder, Sabbath school teacher or pastor. And you cannot bring yourself to forgive. Perhaps you are still hurt and angry.

It could be that, even right now, as you read this page, your marriage is falling apart. Perhaps you are considering an unbiblical divorce (cf. Matthew 19:9) because of the hurt and pain you have suffered in your marriage. If so, I’d urge you to reconsider your decision and prayerfully explore the path of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Regardless of the cause of your hurt, remember that your hurt is part of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.  And in the light of that cosmic conflict, the Lord urges you to make a conscious decision to forgive the perpetrator of that crime.  For as long as you still carry the bitterness and resentment, you will never be free.  You will forever remain a slave of the person who has hurt you.

While may not always understand why people choose to hurt us, the Lord can bring something good out of our painful experiences—if we make a decision to forgive. The story of Joseph illustrates this point. After experiencing all sorts of injustice---jealousy, malice, and hatred from his brothers, harassment, blackmail, and false accusation from Mrs. Portiphar, the injustice of imprisonment in an Egyptian jail, and being forgotten by one of the prisoners—the Bible records that Joseph later understood that even in his terrible ordeal, God’s divine hands were still directing affairs for his good and the good of humanity.

His forgiving spirit in evident in the following enduring words he spoke to his brothers: "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. . . . But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive (Gen 45:5; 50:20).

Writes Ellen G. White: “He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. Whatever comes to him comes from the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Nothing can touch him except by the Lord's permission. All our sufferings and sorrows, all our temptations and trials, all our sadness and griefs, all our persecutions and privations, in short, all things work together for our good. All experiences and circumstances are God's workmen whereby good is brought to us. (Ministry of Healing, 489).


If you are struggling with unforgiveness, remind yourself of how God has forgiven you and respond in kind. “Psa 103:8  The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Ps 103:8-12).

Forgiveness is possible when you understand and have experienced God’s own forgiveness. Refusal to forgive as Christ has forgiven us is an indication that we have not truly experienced the life-changing work of God’s forgiveness.

If you are still wondering why you must forgive and forget. The story of David and Mephibosheth teaches us that the most compelling reason to forgive, is not because that individual deserves it or because the person has asked for it, but for Jonathan’s sake.