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
And When You Pray: Understanding the Lord’s Prayer

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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26 Comments

  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.

  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 messymarriage.com 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.

  8. Great post! This is such a great reminder of how God wants us to be. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      Glad to have you visit, Dawn, and thank you so much for your kindness. 🙂

  9. I agree in principle, but the idea of putting up a shield rather than a wall is, I think, too important to be glossed over as circumstantially relevant. Often, unrepentant people continue to cause hurt and, while it is our duty to forgive, we simply cannot protect ourselves and the vulnerable in our midst unless we do not forget.

    For example, a former church member at my church stabbed a brother in Christ. The brother survived and was the model of Christian forgiveness, asking the Church to forgive the sin and even speaking at the attacker’s trial to ask that he not be punished. The attacker, however, is thoroughly unrepentant, having told some of us that he only regrets not having killed the brother, and insisting that if he were given another chance he’d finish the job.

    We can forgive him but it’d not only be inappropriate but wildly imprudent to forget about what he’d done, and worse, continues to plan on doing.

    In another example, a married brother kept making sexually explicit and inappropriate comments to much younger single men, in one case touching one inappropriately at a retreat. Putting up a shield to protect the young men from his behavior meant insisting that he not be alone with them, since his repeated apologies and claims of repentance were followed by more bad behavior. We were able to forgive, but forgetting would have made us derelict in our duty towards our flock.

    1. Of course. I would never suggest throwing out common sense. The post is referring to holding it in one’s heart because of unforgiveness. The putting up a shield (from the other post you read) is to guard our heart, which is a biblical principle. But yes, God expects us to use wisdom while we also are careful to not allow bitterness to take root in our heart.

      1. Thomas VanHook says:

        Kelly
        I cant thank you enough
        I have been saved thru Jesus redeeming blood since 2008

        Hard times befell me in 2019..
        All i can say is pray for me april 14 2021 as i will be delivering a message on forgiveness at my small baptist church filling in for my father in law…
        If i may..I would like to use your model in sermon…
        God bless you for being such a strong sister in Christ and thank you for filling my eyes with tears and my heart with more love then it has seen in a long time…God bless you and I look forward to meeting you at the marriage supper of Our Lamb
        Your brother
        Tom

        1. Hi Thomas, thanks for your comment. I’m so glad to hear that this helped! If you use the model in your sermon, please reference this blog as a curtesy. Thanks, and praying for you!

  10. I needed to read this and say this prayer today. I praise God for forgiving me and creating us in His image to forgive others 🙌🏾!! Although, I’ve read those verses before and said that I forgave … I didn’t. Your post explained it so clearly. Now I know how to live like Jesus and to cast down those horrible thoughts and to rip up that record of wrong! Thank you and may the Lord continue to bless and keep you! I will keep this as a reminder.

    1. So sorry for the late reply, Diane! But praise God for this testimony! Keep thriving!

  11. WHat about a man that has molested you over and over and refuses to ask forgiveness yet he’s a board member at the church. He’s supposedly a great Christian man yet you see him over and over failing God. He’s acting like a great Christian in front of people but you know he isn’t because for years he’s exposed himself to you and you’ve caught him touching you where he shouldn’t for years? How do you trust such a person? Please tell me this. I have forgiven but the trust just isn’t there yet. I must be around this person. He’s in my family. Tell me how not to feel uncomfortable around him because I’ve seen his nakedness so many times. Thank you

    1. Nicole, I’m so sorry for what you have endured. My heart breaks for you. I always try to get people to understand that forgiving is a heart issue, not staying in abuse issue. Of course we need to use common sense and not be a doormat. Someone may need to walk away for their own safety but can (and should) still forgive as God commands. It’s okay to not trust him. Guarding your heart can mean that you don’t feel comfortable around him. And please, please, please do not let this molestation continue. Go to someone you can trust and tell them all about it. And if that person doesn’t listen or put a stop to it, then keep telling people until it stops. I am praying for you and for your healing. I’ll email you this response so I know you got it. Sorry for the delay; my husband was in the hospital. Hugs to you.

  12. This was perfect. Exactly what I needed right on time. God is so good and faithful😌
    Thank you so much sister! You are being used by God❤️ May the Lord bless you and continue to give you wisdom in all you do.

    1. Aww, great, Tyara! Yes, God is faithful. Thank you for your kind words.

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