Posted by: Mike Willoughby | August 17, 2010

Forgive and Forget in Any Age

Last week, I wrote about the rapidly diminishing element of privacy in the Internet age, the need to be vigilant about what is published to the Internet about the details of our lives.  I also pointed out that we all should reconsider any notion that we can effectively compartmentalize our behavior and secret away parts of our lives.  Although I identified society’s increasing inability or unwillingness to “forgive and forget” preventing many from attaining a “clean slate” restart, I did not offer any alternative hope that “forgive and forget” might still be attainable.  I have to admit that I was hoping some of you might catch that omission and comment on my intentional miss.

My very good friend and long-time source of accountability, Richard Beasley included these words in his comment:

I also feel God’s call to grace – I know that I have done things that I don’t want on Facebook and hope we can find ways to forgive, teach and encourage in this all too public lives world!

My brother and fellow participant in the gospel of grace, Roy Taylor also felt something important was missing from that article and added this reminder in his comment:

Thank God that because of the sacrifice of Christ we truly can be forgiven and God truly can forget all our trespass and sin against Him. That the handwriting of ordinances that was against us was nailed to His cross and God will never count it against us again and “forget” our debt eternally.

Amen, brothers.  In addition to Roy and Richard’s “official” comments, several of you made a point of brining the message of grace to me face-to-face as you had opportunity.  In fact, God is willing and able to not only forgive but also forget.  Hear God’s words through the prophet in Isaiah 43:25:

“I, even I, am he who blots out
    your transgressions, for my own sake,
    and remembers your sins no more.”

Seeking a clean slate and a fresh start?  God is willing and able to grant you that restart – it is yours for the asking.

What about here in this world and in this age?  Is there any clean slate restart available?  Are we doomed to carry the burden of our past sins around with us reminded at every turn of our inadequacies by a society with a perpetual Internet-powered memory?  Read what Jesus had to say to us on the subject in Matthew 18:21-35.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’  The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.  His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’  But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Church, I believe Jesus’ teaching is clear.  We have collectively and individually been forgiven of our sins and our transgressions are remembered no more by the master.  Now we are to go and do likewise.  If there is no place else left on earth where a clean slate is possible, the church must still be that place.  Come join me at our next Forgiven-Sinners Anonymous meeting and hit the restart button on your life.

“Hello, my name is Mike and I’m forgiven sinner.”

 Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!


  1. That’s the good stuff Mike! Being in Christ, His blood continually washes A repentent heart clean; which makes me love Him more and seek a deeper personal relationship with my Savior. “I’m Jason W., also a forgiven sinner”

  2. Thank God for his Grace!!!!!!!!! We have no back-up plan, no other explanation, no other way – praise God that we find salvation in the wonderous name of Jesus! Great follow up, bro!

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