Forgive and Forget

memoryI attended a speech at Concordia Seminary here in St. Louis by renowned theologian Miroslav Volf of Yale Divinity School, Volf talked about memory and about remembering wrongs rightly. Memory, he said, has the positive functions of preventing us from encountering a bad situation in the future, protecting us from harm and even healing us. But on the flip side, memory can be used as sword to inflict pain on others or to cut ourselves off from society in an attempt at self-preservation. Memories can also bring us anger, guilt and shame.

But for Christians, Volf said, all our memories are superimposed with the death and resurrection of Christ. No matter what sin we have the memory of committing, it is washed away by the death and resurrection of Christ. No matter what wrong our minds know someone has perpetrated on us, it is permanently erased by our Savior. No matter what conflict occurred that we replay over and over again, the pain is removed by the sinless Son of God.

So we must as Christians remember wrongs rightly by recalling that all wrongdoing is forgiven by our crucified and risen Christ, who came to save not just some, but the whole world. As Christians, therefore, we are truly to forgive and forget. Even God does not remember our sins or the sins of others once they are confessed and repented of, so why should we? As God tells us, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). And as the psalmist says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Our sins are completely cast away.

So how does remembering our wrongs rightly affect our daily living? It affects us in the ways in which we approach people. We must be eager to forgive others. We must not hold grudges. We must not let sins fester. We have too much work to do together to be sniping at each other. We must do all we can to reconcile with one another and find ways to dwell in harmony for the good of God’s kingdom as we strive to spread our gracious Father’s love to more and more people. We must seek to live in a community of mutual love in Christ, recognizing that Christ “died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). So let us forgive and forget sin, but let us never forget the love of Christ in all we say and do.

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