Keeping Score (Part 1)

After sin entered the human race in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and everyone born after them have suffered from relationship breakdowns.  Relationships were one of the hardest hit areas of life.  Stories of people who refuse to forgive their perpetrators, who hold grudges and who grow bitter fill the pages of human history.  Many refuse to forgive those who have brought offense and pain into their lives.  They keep a running total of wrongs done.

The New Living Translation renders 1 Corinthians 13:5 this way:  “Love keeps no record when it has been wronged.” Agape love, or God’s love produces amnesia.  To God, confessed sin is forgiven sin!  Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  In Isaiah 43:25 the prophet writes, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake.  And I will not remember your sins.”  Isaiah 37:18 says, “It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness.  For you have cast all my sins behind your back.” Psalm 130:3 reminds us that “If you Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?”  Sin placed under the blood of Jesus Christ is gone and forgotten!

Often we hear people say, “I’ll forgive, but I’ll never forget.”  I used to subscribe to this way of thinking until one day the Lord challenged my attitude.  A lot of Christians buy into this unscriptural teaching.  In reality, many times it’s justification for on-going grudge-holding. 

Forgive and forget.  Is it possible?  Yes and no!  All of us have been hurt by someone – probably more than once.  The prophet Zechariah said it this way:  “I was wounded in the house of my friends” (13:6).  Someone said, “I’m not God, so it’s impossible for me to forget hurtful people and situations in my life.  I don’t go brain dead when I forgive.  I still remember the details!” 

That’s not completely true.  Given time, none of us with one-hundred-percent accuracy remember the details of our lives.  However, we DO assign an emotion to everything that happens to us.  When offenses come our way, it’s not our spirit man who gets wounded; it’s our soul man.  Our soul – mind, will and emotions – reacts negatively during times of offense.  Again, we don’t remember facts.  We assign negative emotions to those facts. 

I am the middle of seven siblings.  It’s amazing when we get together as adults and discuss childhood memories.  None of us agree on the facts, and all of us assign different emotions to what took place.  Both positive and negative emotions come to the surface, depending on our individual interpretation of the facts.  Isn’t that crazy?

Like people in general, Christians get hurt along life’s journey.  Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:10 that offenses will accelerate in the last days:  “And then many will be offended…” However, we possess the indwelling Spirit, Who helps us righteously process those negative experiences that afflict our soul.  Through prayer God assigns new interpretations to our negative experiences.  What people sometimes mean for evil, God reverses for our good – and theirs! 

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK:  How this principle played out in the life of Joseph (His story is found in Genesis 37-50).

  

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