DOES FORGIVING MEAN FORGETTING?
by Dale Brown
by Dale Brown
Jesus said, "For if you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." How to apply this to practical living sometimes presents a dilemma. Suppose a wife is being abused by her husband, should she simply continue to be abused and not take some measure of action for her own safety? On a number of occasions apostle Paul was mistreated by various people and his response was to make a run for his life(Acts 9:25). He even warned other disciples to be on guard against Alexander the coppersmith who had done him much harm (2 Tim. 4:14&15). For those who do not learn from experience (history) they are destined to repeat the same mistake.
Forgiveness is a great principle which helps us keep a proper attitude. It helps protect us from getting ate up with bitterness. The same Spirit however, that inspired the New Testament also inspire the imprecatory psalms which call for God to destroy our enemies (Psm. 137:7-9, 35:1-8). It was Paul who recommended the church turn one fellow over to the devil for the destruction of the flesh (1 Cor. 5:5). In fact he wrote that they should not even eat with the character.
We also must understand that we war not against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers of wickedness (Eph. 6:11-16). It is possible to love the person and yet hate the wickedness working within them. That it no way means however that the evil person should not be held accountable for his actions. We will all reap what we sow. If we get to close to those reaping a bad seed we will find it growing up in our garden as well. There comes a time when God may bring the hammer down on a sinner, or a nation, and we need to know how to respond. Lot was told to get out of Sodom (Gen. 13). His wife was reluctant to follow God’s advice and she too perished.
I recall a situation in Alaska where a Christian fellow we knew was told to get away from a certain evil blasphemer. He did not head the advice and a few months later he was with the blasphemer when they and a few others were gunned down as they were preparing to launch their boat for a boat ride.
The spillover effect of sin is present all around us and we need to be aware of what the Spirit is telling us regarding every situation. John’s second epistle warns us against giving a greeting to someone who is spreading a false message, "for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds"(verse 10&11). We can find ourselves aiding and abetting sin, thus coming under judgment ourselves.
Mothers are often guilty of getting in the way of fatherly discipline which prevents the child from learning to be responsible for his actions. For those who have no self discipline they must learn from imposed discipline, either by parental authority, civil authority or the hard lessons of life which God may throw their way. I watched a man preparing to spank his son, "I hate to do this son" he said, "but if I don’t spank you, God will spank me. And I don’t want a spanking."
Recognizing that the sins of the fathers are visited upon children down to the third and fourth generation (Ex. 34:6&7) it is difficult at times to watch children suffering for the rebellious foolishness of their parents, especially when the parents continue to undermine any righteous aid that is given to the child. As Jesus said, the poor will always be with you. Some you can help others you can’t. Being good stewards of what God has given us we have to be prayerful about where we invest our time and resources lest we find ourselves casting our pearls before the swine (Matt. 7:6), or in more modern vernacular, "throwing our money down a rat hole." Someone once advised me to be careful about being desperate for those who are not willing to be desperate for themselves. They need first and foremost to know that God will judge sin. They need therefore to repent. Then God will come to their aid and His aid is far better than anything we can offer.