My basement was filled with loads of boxes of papers; all the work of our years ago homeschooling journey. I have bins of notebooks filled with important information, bookshelves of important books, and more. I keep stuff, important stuff, just in case it may be needed in the future. I keep accounts of all our business. I’m a wonderful record keeper. Unfortunately, there are some records I shouldn’t be keeping.
I was in conversation the other day talking with a dear friend. It wasn’t a particularly earth shattering conversation, but just chit chat, when I realized that I had mentioned someone I knew. In fact I heard myself relaying a past hurt that I had endured at this person’s hand. I felt the prodding.
On another day, there was another conversation and another past hurt recounted. I felt the prodding again. All week every time I opened my mouth, I felt the prodding because I was recalling another hurt I had endured. Before long, the prodding was so insistent, I stopped talking long enough to listen to that still small voice to my heart and soul.
My words spoke of hurts that should have been forgiven and forgotten long ago. I recounted the stories as if they had just happened. I was stunned and embarrassed. My pride was hurt again, for I was caught up in sin again. Apart from my pride, my heart was pricked with guilt and shame at having so easily brought to mind the hurts of the past.
I was reminded of Stephen’s words in Acts 7:60: “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (KJV) Jesus’ words in Luke 23:34a: “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” I had surely violated the rules of forgiveness by keeping a charge against those who had wounded me.
What are the rules of forgiveness?
Forgive – Jesus said, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” in Matthew 6:12. He continued in verse 14: “For if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” The penalty for unforgiveness is being unforgiven. How could I expect God to forgive me if I was not forgiving others?
Cover – Paul in the Book of Romans which primarily speaks of the issue of salvation had this to say about forgiveness: “Saying, blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” (Romans 4:7) Rather than speaking of the sin of others, I should have forgiven them. Proof of my forgiveness was to cover their sin. The understanding here is that forgiveness brings the covering of Christ when He forgives the repentant. Likewise I should be as willing to cover it; to count it as over and done with.
Forget – David wrote in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” God forgets all about our sin, once He has forgiven it. He forgives when we repent and confess our guilt. Then He is quick to restore. Complete restoration cannot take place without forgetfulness on our part. Being forgetful of other people’s sin allows us to move past the hurt and betrayal. We may never fully forget; it seems humanly impossible, but it is do-able in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are supposed to make the effort.
When I realized I was keeping records of past hurts, I was appalled because I know what the Scripture says. I am thankful for the reminder by the Holy Spirit. It is good to be called to task when we demonstrate unChristlike behavior. I don’t want to be guilty of hurting others with my words or most of all, hurting my Lord because of unforgiveness. I am thankful for His forgiveness.
Copyright © 2012 Linda Hull, Words of Encouragement