Our fear out of all this, is that our past misdoings will be held against us. We are tainted by our past, or labelled as a ‘so and so’, and heartbreakingly, we may feel that no one will believe that we can, or have changed. ‘A leopard never changes its spots.’
Should you ever feel that about yourself, or another person – perish that thought! The Christian faith believes in transformation. The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant ... it will be different ... I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
After telling of the work God himself will do on our hearts, he then makes a further amazing declaration:
I will forgive them their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. (v34)
God not only forgives, but declares he will forget! In this divine amnesia, God gives optimistic opportunity for transformation. Forgiving allows for mistakes and offence; forgetting places their remembrance behind so they are no longer a barrier to relationship. Forgiving informs another of the removal of grudges, and forgetting halts the continual negative references. Forgiving accepts sincere regret, but forgetting releases harboured anger and hurt. Forgiving receives apology and blame is accepted, but forgetting closes wounds and fades scars.
Altogether, God gives us the gift of forgiveness, an act of compassion which prompts worth and value in one another, but the added gift of forgetting is one of love that reinforces the desire that the relationship not be broken.
Forgiveness and forgetting is what we call reconciliation. There may well be a better word than ‘forget’, but its strength is about letting go of the angers, grudges, and slanders of the past, and that we give the full gift of forgiveness and reconciliation to one another.
Whether this is about petty or more serious matters, Jesus tells us that our practice of forgiveness is a kingdom imperative as we pray, ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us’. It is one of those things a Christian community should be known for.
With love and peace in the Lord, Jennie