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Today’s Truth

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

Friend to Friend

As humans, we tend to remember what we need to forget and forget what we need to remember. God, on the other hand, forgets what He promises to forget and remembers what He promises to remember. God said, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).

Paul tells us one of the secrets to his success as a Christian and in life. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).

In the Bible, God tells us that He “forgets” our sins and remembers them no more. But how does an omniscient, all-knowing God forget? Let’s look at the antonym to get a better understanding.

There are many events in the Bible that begin with the words “God remembered.” “God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1). “He (God) remembered Abraham” (Genesis 19:29). “God remembered Rachel” (Genesis 30:22). “God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24). In each incident, God’s remembering meant that He was about to do something – God was about to act.

Therefore, if God’s remembering means He is about to act, then God forgetting means that He is not going to act. “For I will forgive their wickedness,” He says, “and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). He forgets our sins – He is not going to act upon them.

Likewise, while we cannot physically forget the details of the wounds of our past, we can choose not to act on them. We can choose to forgive the person who has hurt us and not allow the memory of the offense to control our lives. In that sense, we can forgive and forget.

When Paul talks about forgetting he does not mean that he will or even can wipe an incident from his memory. The Zondervan NIV Commentary of the New Testament notes: “Forgetting did not mean obliterating the memory of his past, but was a conscious refusal to let it absorb his attention and impede his progress.” Paul refused to allow anything from his past control his present. He could tell about it, but without pain, malice, or a hint of revenge.

But it’s too hard, you might say. Friend, God will never tell us to do something that He will not give us the power to do. He has instructed us to forgive…so He will give us the power to do so. He has instructed us to leave the past behind…so He will give us the power to do so. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). “All things” means all things that God has called us to do.

Isaiah wrote, “When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field?” (Isaiah 28:24-25).

I think for many of us, we have been plowing and re-plowing the ground far too long. We’ve been telling and re-telling what was done and how it was done going over the same ground and stirring up the dirt into a giant dust bowl. But there comes a point when it is time to stop plowing up the ground and start planting seeds – until then, we will never see a harvest.

Today, ask God if there is someone you need to forgive, if there is something you need to “forget,” or if there is some ground you need to cease plowing. Then give the memory to God and ask Him to plant good seeds for an incredible harvest!

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I’ve been plowing up the soil of past memories for far too long. Today, I’m going to put away the plow and start planting seeds. When You see me reaching for the plow and going back to rehash old grievances and hurts, I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict me quickly. Today, the past is the past and I’m not looking back.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Are there hurts in your life that you keep stirred up?

Is there a “field” that you continue to plow?

What do you think God wants you to do with those past hurts?

Are you willing to “put the plow away?”

More from the Girlfriends

Forgiveness can be one of the hardest things we ever do. At the same time, it can be one of the most freeing things we ever do. Want to learn more? See my book that takes you through the healing steps of forgiveness: Your Scars are Beautiful, Finding Peace and Purpose in the Hurts of Your Past.

8 Responses to “Remembering to Forget”

  1. Sharon Laas says:

    When something painful and tragic occurs in ones life there are 2 choices; let the bitterness completely distort and even destroy your life. Of course, the other is to find peace & forgiveness through trusting God to take what satan means for destruction and going forward rebuilding your future. For without true forgiveness on your part,there is no going forward, no future built upon Gods grace, mercy, or love.
    In 1988, my Dad was shot & killed by my step-mother.While in the funeral home I saw a bible which was turned to Psalm 91 and at that moment, I told the Lord that this was more than I could bear.This was the life changing moment for me, right then and there. The Holy Spirit soothed my very being, & I forgave her for her actions, knowing that God was her judge, not me. I have lived all of these yrs. without the searing cancer which could have destroyed my life, but I chose life through the Lord’s forgiveness. Oh, yes, I remember, but it is a fleeting moment and then it’s gone.
    Thank you Lord Jesus!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Wow, that is a powerful testimony Sharon, and thank you for sharing. It certainly encourages me knowing God will give us the grace to carry out forgiveness, and to forget.

    In my own life recently I’ve struggled with the rehashing part of the process, and it keeps me bound to the cycle of negative thinking and emotions. I do still hurt from the experiences even though I have approached forgiveness many times. But it is time to stop and let go.

  3. Niquaia says:

    Remembering to Forget!! This really blessed me today. I definitely have some ground that I keep plowing and, it has been my prayer that God give me the strength and the heart to forgive a person that crossed me. I am trying to grow in my ministry and, I would be a fool to let a hardened heart hood me back. Lord, help me to remember to forget!

  4. Merry says:

    I need to forgive and forget these hurts, of abuse and rejection, please help me Lord, cleanse me and make me whole, I release this to you, in Jesus name amen.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I’m 44 years old and over the last year or so have realized just how emotionally neglected my life has been from childhood throughout my first marriage. I’m in counseling, which is helping a great deal, and I’ve met an amazing man who loves me in a way I’ve never known. I struggle with forgiving and forgetting the emotional abuse and neglect of my past as he shows me such love and care and I don’t know how to react. I’m trying not to say it too often that I’m not used to it, or tell him the bad things that happened, but they are so new to me as well in a way since I’m just realizing some of what happened. He has promised to always be there for me and with me, I’m just afraid I’ll mess this up, because I felt like I messed up everything else before. I know with God’s help, love, and guidance we will be able to get through anything, and I’m depending on Him minute by minute. Thank you!

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