Our thoughts on Sunday were on faith and forgiveness. One of the interesting topics that came up was whether God ‘forgives and forgets’. It’s easy to assume that the answer is yes because this is such a common adage, and therefore, we should do the same. But on closer inspection, whilst it is clear we are asked to forgive, I don’t think we are asked to forget.
There are a couple of passages that, on the face of it, suggest that God forgets our sins:
‘I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.’ (Isa43:25)
‘For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.’ (Psa103:11-12)
However, if God really is omniscient, surely he can’t actually forget the details of what has happened? Surely it makes more sense to take these passages to mean that God chooses to disregard our sins, rather than forget them altogether?
Where does this leave us? Rather than consciously trying to forget somebody’s sin against us (don’t think about elephants, whatever you do), I believe that we are to disregard them. This is not an easy task. In fact, it is probably easier to make a conscious effort to forget somebody’s sin against you, rather than coming to terms with it, forgiving them and moving on (particularly when this is the 490th time)!