Learning to Forgive others and not to become Bitter.
Jesus experienced bitterness toward Himself from the religious leaders and the Romans. His response was one of silence to the accusations, and a prayer, “Father, forgive them.” It is when we look at the Cross and realize that Jesus has been in our situation. Jesus did not blame or make counter-accusations, no; He remained silent. Keep your focus on the Lord, and may He give you the strength to stay faithful to Him and forgiving others.
Let’s look at this “forgiving others” a little bit more. When someone has sinned against you, they ask for your forgiveness, and you forgive them – what does that mean? Let’s look at the forgiveness aspect of these confessed sins. We are told to forgive in the same way Jesus has forgiven us.
"bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." (Colossians 3:13 NASB)
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (32) Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB)
So how has God forgiven? “He remembers no more...”
"They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jeremiah 31:34 NASB)
"FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE." (Hebrews 8:12 NASB)
"AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (18) Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin." (Hebrews 10:17-18 NASB)
"I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins." (Isaiah 43:25 NASB)
"'In those days and at that time,' declares the LORD, 'search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.'" (Jeremiah 50:20 NASB)
"He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:19 NASB)
It does NOT say that God forgets, God knows everything. But, He does choose NOT to “remember.” (μιμνήσκω mimnḗskō "to remember, recollect," NAS dictionary – accurately, recall, bring to mind, remind oneself actively (purposefully); to remember, have in mind, "be mindful of." "actively remember" (intentionally) – i.e., not off-handedly or merely incidentally).
So, when I choose to remind myself of something (a particular sin), I bring “it” up again. I re-hash, rehearse, re-live, remember that sin. It becomes “alive” again, and the pain and emotional consequences follow. This is why we continue to return to the Cross – that too is a reminder, remembering what Jesus has done to deal with our sins, once and for all.
"For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God." (Romans 6:10 NKJV)
"By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10 NKJV)
So, when I forgive someone of their sins, it is finished and is not to be brought up again. But there is a cost to forgiving.
Example: You stole $20 from me. I had left it laying around, you saw it and took it. Then you took that $20 and went out to the movies and bought popcorn and a drink. The money is gone. Then your conscience reminds you that you stole $20 from me and need to confess that sin. You ask God’s forgiveness and then come to me.
So, being the repentant sinner, you come and ask for my forgiveness of stealing $20, but you are unable to repay. (You ought to repay – because you stole – but you are unable.)
Now, what do I do? I forgive you. And in that forgiveness – it cost me $20. I wipe the slate clean – you owe me nothing. It is forgiven. It is painful to forgive because I was going to take my wife out on a date, and now I can’t. But to forgive – is also to bear the cost of that forgiveness. This matter is never to be brought up again. “It is finished.” (I’m sure you see this is how God has forgiven us at the Cross, and it wasn’t a mere $20, but an enormous amount of sin that was forgiven.)
All is good, we are reconciled, and all is at peace once again. But a few weeks later, I come up to you and say, “You rotten thief, you stole that $20 that I was going to take my wife out on a date, and YOU ruined that date.”
Now have I really forgiven you? No, I have now sinned against you by reminding myself (and you) of your sin and how it hurt me. I am allowing a root of bitterness to take hold within, and it oozes and spills out on you. (Hebrews 12:15) And of course, I told my wife of your thievery, so she is also mad at you. And it was a “prayer concern” that I shared at the men’s Bible study. Now, they think of you as a thief. And on and on it will go – because I did not really forgive.
We hear, “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.” Again, it is not a matter of forgetting, but one of remembering and reminding myself, over and over again of some past transgression. It is the “remembering” that re-opens the sin and hurt. It is here at this point that we go to the Cross and place those “memories” at the foot of the Cross to be washed by the blood.
As we forgive one another, we forgive and by God’s grace, put it behind us and not bring it up again. But I will not leave money out, putting temptation in front of you, because I love you and don’t want to put you in a situation that might cause you to fall. (^:
When I sin, I bring that sin to the foot of the Cross. When I forgive, I bring that sin (of another) to the foot of the Cross. And declare, “It is finished.”
I hope this is helpful. I know it has been a great reminder of the importance not to be bringing up past sins that have been placed under the blood and have been forgiven. The only one who does bring things up again is Satan – the accuser of the brethren. (Revelation 12:10) And we don’t want Satan to be our role model.