Sunday, August 9, 2009

Forgiving and Forgetting is Inadvisable


"Having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme."
1 Timothy 1:19-20 (NKJV)
"Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works."
2 Timothy 4:14 (NKJV)


Thirdly, believing we must forgive and forget is dangerous because it is INADVISABLE! It is not advisable to forgive others and forget completely what they have done. Why is this so? Because, if they are not fully repentant they can keep coming back to commit the same sin against you and treat you like a mat or a punching bag. You may say, "But didn’t Jesus teach us to turn the other cheek?" Well, my reply would be , "How many cheeks do you have?"

Forgiving others does mean giving them a second chance (as God gave to David a second chance to remain as King) but it does not mean allowing them to trample all over you (David still had to suffer the consequences of his sin as we have seen). You may turn the other cheek a few times but if that person is not changing in the area of the sin forgiven you need to rebuke them and even distance yourself from them (as seen in the pattern found in Matthew 18:15-17).

This is illustrated in the following story: An African man worked for Eunice, a missionary in Liberia. One day she caught him stealing clothes from her house. "Please forgive me," he pleaded. "I did wrong. I promise not to do it again." She forgave him and allowed him to continue working for her. But less than a month passed before she caught him stealing again. "Look at you!" She said. "You’ve stolen again!" The bright fellow stared at her and yelled back, "What kind of a Christian are you?" Eunice, dumbfounded, had no idea how to respond. The man continued, "If you forgive me, you do not remember it. If you did not remember it, such a thing did not happen."

Forgiving someone does not mean your relationship with them will be fully restored or you will continue trusting them as before. In the story above, the missionary was right to give the worker a second chance. However, after the worker proved that he was not really changed she should have either dismissed him or set more safeguards over her possessions. This would not be a sign of lack of forgiveness but a sign of wisdom. She should still fully forgive him each time by giving up the right to hurt back but full trust may never be restored.

In the Biblical example above Paul even delivered Alexander to Satan for the Lord to repay according to his works. Alexander was an Ephesian Christian, a member of the church in Ephesus. Something transpired where Alexander sinned and harmed Paul in a way that is not recorded. Instead of forgiving and forgetting, Paul extended forgiveness but distanced himself from the unrepentant Alexander, asking God to exact vengeance on him! Sometimes vengeance is an option but not for us to exact, but God.


Christian! You're not a door mat or a punching bag
That others can abuse.
Remember, punching bags can always bounce back
But in doing this you'll lose.
Let God send the punching bag from heaven
And giving up the right to hurt you must choose.


"Father, help me to be wise when others trample over me as I forgive them. Teach me when to withdraw and when to ask You to come in a repay them. In every situation help me to give up the right to hurt back. Amen!"

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