How long does one hold something over another person’s head? You are in a conversation, in a group more-so, and a name is mentioned, someone quickly inserts an incident that took place or was supposed to have taken place thirty years previously. It may be an insinuation with no accuracy, and yet the expression on the individuals face says it all.
As a pastor, I have lived with such succinct individuals who obviously cherished those juicy morsels and were rotting inside because they refused to forgive. One can be quick to say that they forgive, but the devil sees to it that one does not forget. The opening words of Acts 8 caught my attention: “Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.”
Forgiving and forgetting must be considered by all of us. Forgiving is obligatory to the Christian. The words of Ephesians 5:32 ring loud and long: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Forgetting is virtually impossible. Circumstances can easily arouse a by-gone incident. What then is a proper response to the “forgiven” or properly adjudicated incident? Zip the lip! In all probability we have not been the recipients of all the details. People give only the information that makes them appear to “look” as best possible, even when found guilty.
What makes the verse I referred to in Acts 8:1 is that Saul, later called Paul, did what he did in agreement with local acceptance; however, after his conversion he found it a most repulsive engagement. He had watched as Stephen was stoned to death. It became an acknowledgement that his “acceptable” sin was un-acceptable before the Almighty. I have to believe that he probably not only saw the repulsiveness of his action, but also felt the magnanimous forgiveness of the Lord. When becoming a believer, (Acts 9), he probably felt that the suffering he experienced in serving the Lord was a “just dessert”.
Sooo! If something is recalled, as I said previously, treat it in a fashion that you would want to be treated… Zip the lip! Treat it as a by-gone and refuse to discuss the matter. The young man said to his mother: “I think you would find something positive to say, even about the devil.” Her reply was simple: “He is persistent.”