Forgive and Forget

                                                          by Luis Palau Spiritual Life Channel:
My friend, has anyone ever offended you? Has your spouse been unfaithful? Have your children disappointed you? Has someone cheated you in business? How we respond to the difficult experiences of life directly affects our spiritual well-being.

My father died when I was only ten years old. He left us quite a bit of property and some money. But his four brothers squandered everything we had. In three years my family was living in poverty and debt.

When I was older and really understood what they had done, I urged my mother to take revenge on them, to get a lawyer to take them to court and let them have it. The older I got, the more bitter I became.

But the Bible says, Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for Gods wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge, I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12:19). He is the One who measures out justice. He wants to handle such judgment for us -- perhaps now, certainly ultimately.

Forgiving Others

My mother always quoted verses like Romans 12:19. She completely forgave my uncles for what they did. It took us 20 years to finish paying our debts. But she simply refused to become bitter. She forgot what they had done. Consequently, God gave her a freedom of spirit and opportunities to serve the Lord. I experienced that same freedom and fruitfulness later when I, too, forgave my uncles.

How deeply have you been hurt, my friend? Have you become bitter or unforgiving in your attitude?

I would like to remind you of the story of Joseph. The Bible gives us many reasons why Joseph could have been a very bitter man. His brothers hated him and sold him into slavery. His masters wife falsely accused him of a serious crime and had him thrown into an Egyptian prison. A government official promised to help him yet left him there to rot. Despite all these things, Joseph did not allow any root of bitterness to take hold in his life (Hebrews 12:15).

As many lives are spoiled by bitterness and a lack of forgiveness as by almost anything in the world. People go through physical and emotional breakdowns because they refuse to forgive others. The longer we carry a grudge, the heavier it becomes. We cannot afford to harbor bitterness in our soul.

The Bible says, Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).

I encourage you to read the story of Josephs life in Genesis 37-50. It is an exciting portion of Scripture! This passage teaches us many valuable lessons on the importance of forgiveness.

Setting Matters Right

For twenty years Josephs brothers carried the debilitating burden of guilt within their hearts for what they had done to their brother. Each time they found themselves in a predicament they said, Surely we are being punished because of our brother (Genesis 42:21). For twenty long years they were haunted by a skeleton they kept locked in a closet. Is there a skeleton hidden in your closet, my friend?

Rudyard Kipling said it well: Nothing is ever settled until it is settled right. We can point our finger and make up excuses, we can invent arguments and do anything else we want, but the key to the closet jingles in our pocket until we settle matters right.

How long have you kept a skeleton in your closet? Oh, you desperately keep that skeleton locked in some closet of your soul. You hope no one ever probes there. You hope no one ever finds a key and says, Ah! There it is!

I beg you to take that skeleton out of your closet. Confess your sin to God and to whomever you have offended. Get rid of it and experience Gods forgiveness.

Certain things may never be quite the same, but you can start walking with God again. With total freedom and complete joy you will be able to look at every man and woman in the eye. Why? Because youre clean. Forgiven. At peace with God and others.

The Bible says, Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed (James 5:16). Confession is the healing balm of our soul. Our confession, however, should only be as wide as the scope of our transgression.

Forgiveness. We need to seek it whenever we realize we have offended someone else. We also need to offer it whenever others hurt us.

Forgetting the Past

After entering into the experience of forgiveness, forgetfulness is vital. Joseph called his first-born son Manasseh, saying, It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my fathers household (Genesis 41:51). Joseph not only forgave his brother, but he forgot the evil deeds they had committed against him.

During the latter part of Josephs life, his father, Jacob, died. Josephs brothers again feared for their lives. They thought Joseph hadnt really forgiven them and would take revenge on them at last.

Joseph only wept when he realized their concern and said, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good (Genesis 50:20). Joseph could see the sovereign, merciful hand of God at work in his life. He had completely forgiven his brothers and forgotten their offense years before, and longed for them to experience that forgiveness themselves.

Forgiving Yourself

Have you learned to forgive yourself for your past failures? Have you purposefully tried to forget them after confession and restitution took place?

Unless we learn how to forget past sins, we will always live in that past. Bitterness or guilt will continue to eat away at us like a cancer.

Paul had persecuted the Church as a zealous Pharisee. He had committed terrible sins. Yet afterwards as a Christian he said, Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). He didnt dwell on his past failures.

Joseph learned to forget about the offenses of others. Paul learned to forget his own sins after he had confessed them and made things right. We need to learn the same lesson of forgiveness today. All of us encounter potentially devastating experiences. How we respond to these situations determines our own well-being and the well-being of others.

Keeping Short Accounts

Forgive and be forgiven. And then forget it. This is the secret of spiritual health. Keep short accounts with God and men. Dont lock bitterness and guilt within the closet of your soul.

Allow the Holy Spirit to shine His divine spotlight in your heart. Let Him clean out every closet in your soul. Then claim Gods wonderful promise, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

May you experience His cleansing and healing today!

Copyright 2001 Luis Palau -- All Rights Reserved


Ken Brown, "Some people forgive but they hold onto to it and don't really let it go because they refuse to forget."


I was 8 when I was imposed upon.
I have forgiven. And honestly, God has helped me to learn to forgive the individual with no strings attached. I have essentially forgotten it.
Forgotten in terms of not allowing bitterness to rise up within me nor pain.
God has taught me how to essentially mesh the 2 together.
To me forgiving and forgetting are synonymous.
If forgiving and forgetting were not intertwined, I would have no doubt taken my life while I was growing up.
It's something I want to convey to people because I have walked through it myself.
At this point, I do struggle with something for a time but then I begin to forgive and then I forget. It then has no strings attached.
Forgiving and not forgetting is essentially an excuse for harboring bitterness and resentment. One without the other is essentially not truly forgiveness.
Also, it gives the enemy legal rights to areas of our lives if we do not acquire and offer both.
I want to convey these things to you because I believe in my heart of hearts that leaders and ministers are truly called to make themselves unneeded.
I want to work myself out of a job by instilling the qualities God has instilled into me in the poeple around me so that they can stand on their own two feet. So they won't need me.
True leadership is truly helping people so they won't need you anymore.
Forgive and forget...
This is where the Lord has so many of us right now. So many So many.
Father annoint ears to hear and hearts to receive I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Dex @


Amen Dex
I have forgiven, and I do believe in the most sence forgotten myself, I have been affected by it, but I don't let it rule my life any more.  I had too as it is said "Give it to God".  I forgave my imposers (yes more than one, repeative).  God will deal with them when He is ready.  Being angry, hurt and bitter, was just hurting me more.  When I "Gave it too God" and said Lord I forgive them, and I named each and everyone of them.  I sence of peace came over me.   Jesus has already healed us, He healed us when He died on the cross.  We just need too accept it, recieve it, and believe it.  Now I pray for the ones that imposed on me and ripped my innocence away.  God loves them, and so do I. 
Love always and forever
Heather from New Zealand


The moment of Truth

I have to be honest here. When I first read over this I was extreemly upset because if this is taken in the wrong context it can seem to set an impossible standard for someone who is already struggling to forgive. Six years ago that is how I would have read this. "Yet another impossible standard for me to meet, set by people who don't understand what I have been through." What offended me so much about this? Well, the concept of forgetting at first seemed outragious to me. After all, I was abused several times through out my life and have not forgotten a single time. So to me this was saying your forgiveness is not complete because you haven't forgotten. But the question that remained in my mind was, "How can I forget when the Lord is using this to help others? I am reminded of it continually as  the Lord uses me to minister."
Normally I would have looked up the origional meaning of "forget" if I had my Strongs Concordance with me, but I don't right now. First I would like to explain how it is that I came to the conclusion origionally that this could set an impossible standard for someone already struggling to forgive. To tell someone who hasn't yet forgiven that they have to forget it too, without explaining as Dex did that,  "Forgiving and not forgetting is essentially an excuse for harboring bitterness and resentment. One without the other is essentially not truly forgiveness.", can leave the person feeling that yet again they don't measure up because to forget seems impossible to someone who has yet to forgive.
Joseph truely is a good example of forgiveness and forgetting. The key though to both for him was that it was not something that he did on his own. It is not something we have the will power or strength to do on our own. So yes, in a way forgiving and forgetting is an impossible standard to set for someone. Yet  Jesus knowing that there are things that are impossible standards set for men said: 27But He said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." (Luke 18) I believe that God sets impossible standards for us sometimes so that we have nothing left to lean on but Him. I have forgiven and forgotten the perpetrators of the abuse. I have not forgotten in the sense of, it is as if they or the crimes they commited don't exist anymore. It is in the sense of, there is no bitterness, anger, or resentment in my heart towards these men anymore. This is not something I came to on my own. This was granted to me by God as I was reading my bible one day:
2 Timothy 3
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I realized that this is what those men were. This is the life they were living, and the following scripture is what was going to happen to them if they didn't repent and turn from the wickednesss they were living in:
2 Thessalonians 2
11And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Don't ask me how, because I still havent figured it out, but at that exact moment God granted me forgiveness for those men, and a burden for their salvation. All except the person who raped me when I was five yrs old, and only because I didn't know yet that he had raped me. Up to that point I don't think I had even asked God to help me forgive those people. I really hadn't cared because they had hurt me, and as far as I was concerned they deserved whatever bad they got in life and death. It was a sovereign act of God. I fell down on my knees on the floor and was weeping for the souls of these men, and for the first time since I had been saved I truely realized just how undeserving I was of the forgiveness of God, yet He had granted it to me freely. So who was I to withhold it from others who were no more or less deserving than me?
This was my moment of truth. Joseph had a moment of truth too. The bible doesn't say when or how, but at some point he had to make the choice to let God do this work in him. The evidence of that work was shown when his brothers came to egypt in need of food, and Joseph did not turn them away. That is the part that we play in the whole thing.  I could have chosen at that point to not forgive them, to not forget. To wish evil on them all their days. But God knew the harm this would do to my soul, my spirit, my mind. He showed this all to me in a manner I could understand, and could accept. As much as He knows me personally, He knows you personally. He knows what you can handle and when. He will bring it into your life in His time.
Don't let people or things pressure you into trying to do this thing on your own. It doesn't work that way. It's a God thing, not a you thing. Know that if it seems impossible to you it probably is, and that's ok. Nothing is impossible to God. Nothing. You can lean on Him and know that He will help you to deal with it all. Every hurt, anger, bitterness, resentment. And also know that the fact that these things may be in your heart does not change how the Lord see's you. He loves you as you are, and wants to help you get over these things. He doesn't love you any less because you have been hurt, and are struggling with forgiveness. He loves you beyond measure, without limits. Without the restraints that man has put on love. Without the conditions man has put on love. Take heart, and be encouraged. God isn't through with any of us yet, and He hasn't given up on you.

Robin @

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