Does God Say We Should Forgive but Not Forget?

Forgive but not forget? Is it biblical? Learn the answer to that question plus five ways to model God’s way of forgiveness.

Pin this post with the title Does God Say We Should Forgive but Not Forget?

I’ve been to Strife City. It’s not pretty. When I stormed out its gates, I felt dirty all over. I tried to shake it off but still felt miserable.

The burning thoughts of the ugly encounter filled my head. Despondency inhibited me from planning what to do next.

Over time God reminded me that His truth makes me beautiful. This idea stirred me from my dismal state: my ugly encounter for His beautiful truth.

But how do I get from one opposite extreme to another? I was willing to be teachable.

He enlightened me on how to forgive completely.

Being Teachable About Forgiveness

If I want to model God, I need to follow His way of forgiveness. It’s how I live yielded to God regarding my relationships. It takes choosing love and knowing that it covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

No matter how hard it is to forgive or how many times we have to do it, we must remember that forgiveness isn’t optional for a Christian (Colossians 3:13).
Kelli LaFramboise

I’ve heard it for years: someone says that he forgives you but allows the memory to stay etched in his head. You hear it in movies, from overhearing shoppers in the store, and even in the body of Christ.

“Yes, I forgive her, but I don’t forget what she did! I won’t let her forget how she hurt me! But, we’re supposed to forgive, so I forgive her.”

At one time, unattractive statements like that were the way I felt.

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

God showed me there’s a delicate balance between the memories of my past that float through like a passing cloud, and choosing to remember them like staring at the sky to see what shape I can make from the cloud. Those passing clouds? They’re there, but I don’t look up.

If I love the way He does, I will apply His way of forgiveness.

If I love the way God does, I will apply His way of #forgiveness. #LiveYielded #ThriveInChrist Click To Tweet
Pin this post with the title 5 Ways to Model God's Way of Forgiveness.

5 Ways to Model God’s Way of Forgiveness

1. Forgive others’ sins against us. Enough said.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25 KJV

2. Ask the Father to forgive the offender. It’s interesting that when we do this, we are suddenly desiring a gift to be granted to the guilty party. It’s not so easy to stay mad at that person.

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34a KJV

3. Free others from guilt. 1 John 1:9 tells us God cleanses our sin. According to the Greek lexicon, cleanse there means “to free from the guilt of sin.” If someone is innocent, then he didn’t do it and there’s no reason to act like he’s guilty.

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld. John 20:23 ESV

4. Let go of resentment. I’ve talked before about how love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. No running list of “all those times.” When our thoughts want to dwell on it, cast it down as fast as we would brush away a mosquito. Deal with our own heart because holding onto offense can lead us into other areas of sin.

[Love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. 1 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

5. Forget others’ sins against us. God has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and chooses not to remember our sins.

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25 ESV

Forgive but not forget? Is it biblical? Learn the answer to that question plus five ways to model God's way of forgiveness. #LiveYielded Click To Tweet

A Prayer to Model God’s Way of Forgiveness

When faced with the choice to walk in forgiveness, I have prayed a prayer such as the one below:

Pin this prayer: A Prayer to Model God's Way of Forgiveness.

God, I desire to model Your way of forgiveness more than holding on to the hurt. You commanded us to forgive in Your Word, so I forgive my offender right now. Father, as Jesus did while hanging on the cross, I ask You to forgive my offender as well. Now, Lord, I release my offender to You. They are no longer guilty. I let go of any resentment towards my offender and will not allow a root of bitterness to take root. Any time my thoughts want to dwell on the offense, I cast it down. I refuse to keep a record of wrongs, therefore forgetting the sin committed against me. Thank You for the freedom from hurt that comes from walking in biblical forgiveness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Note: Natural memories of past circumstances might still be present, especially while we are still being healed from hurt. However, if we choose to remember because we are holding a grudge, that is when we walk through a door that leads to the root of bitterness.

You might be saying, “You don’t know what they did to me.”

No, I don’t. But God does, and despite the pain, He is a God of love. Doing these five truths cause us to walk in His way of forgiveness.

It’s love in action.

How else can we model God’s way of forgiveness? 

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  1. I don’t know what it would be of me without God’s forgiveness! So encouraging and beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your heart and experience with forgiveness!

  2. Always grateful for the forgiveness I’ve received. Thanks for the reminder to pass that same forgiveness on to those who have hurt me. And thanks for linking up to Testimony Tuesday!

    1. Oh, thanks for hosting, Holly. I’m still trying to find my way around. So grateful you stopped by today.

  3. I spent a few years in Strife City as well. Not a pleasant experience! So glad to have moved on!!! Your neighbor at Holly’s #68

  4. I’m kinda wondering if you and I have been dealing with the same issues recently. I needed to read this Sweet Sister. Thank you for bravely sharing your heart.

    1. So glad it was helpful! I’ll be praying for you, friend.

  5. debwilson2 says:

    Kelly, Your number 2, ask God to forgive them. I don’t know that I’ve ever prayed that. Great points.

  6. Thanks for being so practical and truthful Kelly! Especially loved the way you explained forgetting as not necessarily it won’t ever pop back into our minds but that we swat it away. We don’t dwell on it. Great post!

    1. Great to see you here, Gretchen. Thanks for your kind words. It wasn’t an easy lesson to learn, but I’m grateful for it!

  7. Hi, thanks for you thoughtful article. I have a question, I really hesitate to make this sound like an excuse, I don’t want to excuse myself from the call to forgive – I do forgive.
    But what if the person one is forgiving is counting on your forgiveness and is the one telling you to forgive them (‘if you’re really a christian’) because they want to continue treating you in hurtful ways?
    I’ve forgiven and will continue to forgive, but that leaves me and my family no escape from endless drama and trauma that is continued at us because we have to forgive it. I fear I’m letting my child be hurt and that it takes it toll on my marriage as we allow it to continue in the name of forgiving and forgetting. I didn’t think God’s forgiveness extends to that he would let us use it to keep consciously sinning without repenting? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in this having moved through painful circumstances yourself.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      One thing I have learned is that forgiveness is a matter of the heart. We don’t ever want to allow a root of bitterness to develop because a person continues to inflict pain. However, there’s a difference between putting up a wall and putting up a shield. Forgiving will certainly help heal the hurt, so I encourage you to continue to do so no matter what that person does. But that doesn’t mean we become a doormat. It’s very difficult to give a thorough opinion without knowing your situation. That’s just what I would say in a general sense.

      Since you mentioned marriage, you might check out my friend’s site which is a valuable resource for applying wisdom in your marriage. Praying that God gives you wisdom, Beth, and for the “endless drama and trauma” to come to an end.

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