“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous in order that he might forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
I saw a skit a number of years ago that depicted how many American families interact with one another. In the skit, both the husband and the wife carried a ledger around with them. When one person did something nice for another, it was marked down in the ledger. When something mean or careless was done, it too was marked in the ledger. Debates then ensued between each person about how many plusses or minuses that each had.
Though this seems like a rather silly way to live life, it is the way that many people live. So-and-so did something nice for me so now I am obligated to do something nice for them—even the slate, as it were. And also, so-and-so offended me in this way, so I need to keep track of it lest they offend me again. Then, when the question of forgiveness comes along, it might be offered up front, but if anything bad ever happens again, then the ledger can come out and the “remember when” is uttered.
We have talked about a lot of things that forgiveness is not, one thing that forgiveness is, is sincere. Forgiveness is meant to be acted upon and lived out. If you forgive someone, then there can be no notes kept in the ledger book regarding their sin toward you. It is not held over someone’s head, either, in the hopes of making them feel guilty or that “they owe you” something. Forgiveness does not have a remember when attitude.
This is not to say that scars will not remain even after you have forgiven another person. Sometimes wounds are very deep and need a long time to heal. But the reason that scars remain is not so that you can continue to hold said sin over your offender’s head, but the scars remain to remind you what God has brought you through. The scars also remain as a testimony to the world that God has preserved you through trials and tribulations and perhaps will allow you to minister to others who are facing a similar crisis. There is great power in being able to say that I have faced the same thing you are going through, God has preserved me, and God has enabled me to forgive. That is a powerful testimony.
Friends, I have said this before and I will continue to say this as long as I draw breath. You and I have been forgiven more than we can imagine. Our sin is more heinous to God than a thousand sins that another could do to you. Your sin—my sin—cost God the life of his Son, what more need I say? And beloved, if God could forgive you, then God can enable you to forgive one another as hard as that may seem. Trust Him to do that work in you.