As we grow older, we experience memory loss on a continuum — from simple forgetfulness to full on diagnosed dementia. Someone told me that since I’m in my late 50’s, I shouldn’t be too concerned if I forget where I put my car keys. That’s normal. However, I should be concerned if I find my car keys but I don’t remember what they are used for.
As I reflect this week on my good friend Tony Hostetler who changed his address from earth to heaven last week, one thing he taught me is to have a short memory when it comes to the sins of others.
Tony wasn’t God but he sure did have a lot of characteristics that remind me of God. For example, the Bible reminds us hat God forgives our sins and forgets them (See Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 8:12). God has purposeful amnesia regarding our sins.
For many humans, our memories are selective and we can easily forget our wrong but we often have the keen memory of an elephant when it comes to others who have wronged us. We tend to clutch tightly to the offenses that others have committed against us.
Here are a few things that I learned from Tony that might help us forgive those who have sinned against us:
Forgiveness requires humility. Only when I realize that there are things more important in life than my wants, my needs and my feelings, can I consider letting go of my hurt.
Forgiveness requires compassion. Compassion is being moved by the plight of another, coupled with action to help him or her. Compassion allows me to try to step into the other person’s shoes and look through their eyes and experience their struggles.
Forgiveness requires trust. We may not trust the other person all that much in the beginning but trust starts as an act of faith in God. God is at work. He can give us and the other person the power to change.
Forgiveness requires self-control. To forgive, you have to say no to bitterness and choose to not allow it to be a resident house-guest, shaping your responses. You say no to the angry words and actions of vengeance. You resist the urge to share your anger with everyone else who will listen.
Forgiveness requires remembering. We find the most freedom when we remember our own need for forgiveness and we have gratitude for God’s amazing grace that has been offered to us. I love this line by Paul Tripp, “We must remember that God never mocks our weakness, never finds joy in throwing our failures in our face, never threatens to turn his back on us, and never makes us buy our way back into his favor.”
I learned from Tony that when we carry in us a deep appreciation for the grace that God and others have shown us, we will have a heart that quickly forgives. And that kind of memory loss is a really good thing.
Question: What additional things have you learned about forgiveness? Share in the comment section below.