By Larry Frazier

According to the way God has created our brains, we can forgive even though we can’t forget. So what is wrong with saying, “I will forgive but I won’t forget?” Attitude is the answer.

The awesome three-pound organ called the brain that God has given us is responsible for sensory information, motor responses, and learning. Scientists tell us it is a myth that we only use 10 percent of our brains. In fact, they say that we use all of our brain, and that it never sleeps, but is always working. Scientists further say that methods of erasing memory are more properly just memory alteration and suppression techniques.

God has “fearfully and wonderfully made us” (Psalm 139:14).  Fearfully means that we can only stand in amazement at the things God can do. Apparently, God can erase His memory, saying in Hebrews 8:12, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” We, however, cannot erase our memories and we fall prey to our human nature when we betray a confidence. If we receive someone’s confession of sin against us and we say to them “I forgive you,” then a pact of confidence and trust has been established.  To bring the matter up again or tell it elsewhere is a betrayal of that confidence.

The Bible says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13).  We cannot erase hurtful words and actions from our memory. God has not given us that ability and science can only mask a problem.  We can allow faith in Jesus Christ working through the Holy Spirit to change our attitude. Saying “I will forgive but I WON’T forget” expresses a bad attitude toward forgiveness.  God would rather that your heart believe the words of Proverbs 17:9, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

We have seen on the news that people have publicly forgiven those who have committed terrible crimes against their families and friends. What a God-pleasing attitude that is, and we pray that the Holy Spirit would keep and protect them in that loving way.  An unforgiving attitude, like gossip, only intensifies hurt and does not promote healing. “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (Proverbs 26:20).

The act of forgiving goes against human nature, which would rather get revenge. Thanks be to God that we have help. We don’t have to struggle alone against powers and feelings that are too strong for us. Through saving faith in Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit we “Can be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God, in Christ, forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Larry Frazier is an ordained pastor of the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) serving in the Cleveland area since 1994.