Pastor I was wondering
Have you ever had a question about the Bible or about religion that you always wanted to ask, but never had anyone to ask? Here is your opportunity. If you have a question about the Bible, or about doctrine, or Christian life, please contact Pastor Adrian using the form here, Question for Pastor
QUESTION: A Christian friend of mine told me that I needed to forgive and forget the hurt that someone inflicted on me when I was a child. But the pain is so horrible. I told my friend that I will never forgive that person. My friend told me that if I didn't do that, God would send me to hell! Is that right? Will God send me to hell because I won't forgive and forget what that person did to me?
Thank you for that question. Many people have that same question in their hearts, and haven't had a chance to raise it. The quick answer to your question is "No!" Your Christian friend is wrong. God does not command you to "forgive and forget!"
But God does command you to "forgive."
God never commands people to "forgive and forget." Because frankly that is impossible for us human beings to do. We human beings never forget anything! [That doesn't include the five items my wife asks me to pick up at the store on the way home from work!] The hurts we have suffered we never forget. Oh, sometimes, we can begin to forget them, and they slip from our minds over time. But then a song on the radio, or going back to a particular house, or seeing someone, and it's like someone pushed the play button on our DVR, and the incident comes back in living color, and we can feel every pain we felt at that time.
The only time the two words "forgive and forget" are used together in the Bible is in Isaiah when God tells us, "He will forgive our sins, and remember them no more." God will forgive and forget. But God never asks us to forgive and forget.
And yet there are many passages where Jesus asks us to forgive others. In fact, Jesus becomes very adamant about our forgiving others. Because our refusal to forgive other people will have a negative impact on us, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually! In fact our refusal to forgive can affect our faith and our relationship with Jesus.
But something to keep in mind. God asks you to forgive other people, not for their sake! But for your sake! Refusing to forgive is like taking live coals out of your grill and throwing them at the person who hurt you. Those live coals will probably not hurt that person at all, even if they hit them. But they will burn and blister your hands to the point that you may need medical attention. A person's refusal to forgive a person who hurt them, has no impact on the person who hurt you. Most likely he doesn't even remember the pain he's inflicted upon you. And if he does remember, he doesn't care about it. But my refusal to forgive causes me to lose sleep, not to eat properly, to get ulcers, and to have such a horrible attitude that I begin to lose the few friends I have.
Yes, God has commanded us to forgive others, just like Jesus forgave us. And we Christians are quick to preach that sermon to people who have been hurt. And our sermon is true. But, all too often we have failed to talk to people about "how" to forgive others. I don't have space here to give you all the details about how we can forgive others. But realize this main point. The forgiveness you give to other people is not intended to help anyone but you.
I hope this helps. And if you would like to learn more about "how" to forgive, please contact me. I would love to talk to you about it.
Again thank you so much for your question.