So, Shola finally forgave Segun her boyfriend who raped her when she refused to conform to the popular norm of “sex before marriage”. She didn’t report him to the police as she threatened and they went back together. It wasn’t long, the same incident occurred again. This time Shola had no opportunity to threaten to report to the Police because Segun didn’t give her the opportunity. Since Segun had realized he wouldn’t go unpunished if Shola leaves the vicinity, he murdered her coldly and that was the end of Shola.
I used the above fictitious scenario which of course is very similar to some news we could read from the headline or watch on the TV because it best explain what I am about to present here. I see many people who walk in blindness really thinking they are walking in forgiveness. Sometimes, it is the wrong messages we hear from the pulpit or the wrong advice we get from friends that can cause such violent scenario to replicate itself in our own world. Should we really forgive people when they wrong us? Yes! I can only say yes because we too have been forgiven of all our wrongs! But does that mean we should give people who wronged us the chance to occupy the space they occupied in our hearts before? Well, if they really have serious problems that would put our lives at risk, it is best to let them go. We should forgive them unconditionally but we have to deal with the fact that it is over if that is what would keep you on the safer side.
“Forgive and forget” has been a popular statement that most people have credited to the Bible. Some are of the view that to “forgive and forget” means that we have to selectively get rid of the memories of some wrongs people did and pretend it didn’t happen. Permit me to say it is very impossible since our brain isn’t an SD card or flash drives that can just be formatted at will. In a bid to live as though we’ve gotten rid of offenses that people committed against us, we end up pretending – and yes you heard me right. We’re just pretending nothing happened.
Looking at the news, we would hear about a mass shooting, a terrorist attack, murder out of intoxication and at the end the victims are always Christians. These Christians usually start the process of forgiveness within hours or days of the crime in a bid to present our faith as a more loving faith but I think we’ve always gotten it wrong. Let look at this:
God is willing to forgive everyone and so should we, God offers forgiveness to everyone and so should we, God’s forgiveness does not reach everyone regardless of their response to His forgiveness and so should we. Receiving God’s forgiveness is conditional and is based on sincere repentance (not confession) and the same should apply in our dealing with people. Therefore, not everyone can receive God’s forgiveness because they really don’t want forgiveness…So should we!
“Not at all! And don’t you realize you’ll also perish if you don’t turn from your evil ways and turn to God? ”–Luke 13:3
“Rebuke your brother if he sins, and forgive him if he is sorry. Even if he wrongs you seven times each day and each time turns again and ask forgiveness, forgive him”–Luke 17:3
The Bible didn’t expressly ask us to forgive people and forget when they don’t really care about our forgiveness. Yes, we must have that heart of forgiveness and express it but it takes an effort from our offender to truly accept our forgiveness. What the scriptures implied was that we should continue to forgive people without holding grudges or trying to take revenge, it means not keeping records of people’s wrong. Of course, we don’t have to keep records of people’s offenses because God isn’t keeping records of our own offenses too.
“Where is another God like you, who pardons the sins of the survivors among his people? You cannot stay angry with your people, for you love to be merciful”– Micah 7:18
To learn why you must forgive people, read my article on THE HUGE TRUTH ON FORGIVENESS.
However, forgiving someone’s sins doesn’t mean pretending like they did nothing wrong and hoping it will get better on its own. We must learn to help them by giving them rooms to become better and probably not a room that could cause history to repeat. Forgiveness doesn’t mean a continuation of friendship. Never hold grudges against people but always know when to let go of people so that you don’t give them room to hurt you again. It is a nice idea to expect changes in people but it isn’t a good idea to let them be opportune to hurt you again. Give them room to change but that room mustn’t be in your heart. Looking at Shola, she gave Segun the opportunity to hurt her again and the result was heart breaking. Like I said earlier, don’t hold grudges against your offenders but don’t pretend that they are the perfect breed. Admit their weakness and be on the watch! It is not like you are keeping a list of the wrongs people did to you but some offenses are experiences we can learn from.
There are certain people who don’t want our forgiveness; such people don’t admit their mistakes and they are unrepentant. If a person offends us, we must confront them and if they don’t respond with repentance we have to take it up to another stage not because we haven’t forgiven them but because we don’t want them to go ahead hurting us. When an armed robber break into your house, you are supposed to call the security, it doesn’t make you a bad person. We don’t just have to forget what people did without really confronting them and making sure the underlying issue why they did that is addressed. If we just overlook them and pretend like nothing happened, we will be their victims again and this time it may be deadlier.
“If a brother sins against you, go to him privately and confront him… If he doesn’t acknowledge his sins, confront him with at least two brothers as witness… if he doesn’t admit, take his matter to the Church… if he doesn’t admit his faults, let him be to you as a gentile”– Matthew 18:15-17
You can help people whose weakness is obvious by encouraging them to meet the right counselors, by encouraging them to keep trusting in the Lord who has given them the power to overcome their weakness if they’re truly born again. You can also help them by trying to avoid them when their case is really serious and something you cannot handle. It is also important to report people’s offense to the right people when it is very serious. You don’t report them because you hate them or because you don’t want to forgive them. Reporting them to the Police, Psychiatrist or other necessarily bodies will help them because they will be monitored or remain in “rehab” till they become better. Forgive people but help them and help yourself to avoid abuse. Sometimes, it would mean saying “IT IS OVER”.
In summary, forgive and forget implies that we forgive people and bear no grudge in mind against time… Many people who took revenge lived to regret it.