Friday, August 1, 2008

Genesis 50 - Forgotten

"Forgive and forget"

I don't know who first paired those words, but after reading Genesis 50, I'd like to remix them a little. They've always meant that you forgive someone and you forget what they did to you. The two verbs in that idea are completed by the same individual. But in this chapter we see things in a different way.

Here is what 15-17 says after Joseph has buried his father Israel:

When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?" So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died: 'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

Joseph had already forgiven his brothers. He had already wept with them and held them and given them everything they could ever need for a new life in Egypt. He showered his family with love and protection. But as soon as Israel died, they grew afraid. They threw themselves down at his feet and said "we are your slaves." It was as if the forgiveness had never happened.

What was Joseph's immediate response? He wept.

There are probably a million reasons for those tears but it is interesting to wonder if he cried because he was sad that his brothers had forgotten his forgiveness. Maybe he was sad because their fear revealed that they were still living in captivity to the crime they committed decades ago. Maybe he was sad that they had not truly accepted his gift of forgiveness.

You see, instead of forgive and forget, the brothers were all living under the approach of "forgiven but forgotten." They had been forgiven, but they had forgotten it ever happened.

I wonder if God ever cries over me in the same way. He has forgiven me so many times. He sent His son to die for me. He holds me and whispers and shouts forgiveness to me. But I forget. When a single worry from the past tries to rear its head I don't squash it because I know I am forgiven. I give it room to grow and mutate and choke the happiness out of my life again because I have forgotten.

I am tired of living my life under the bondage of "forgiven but forgotten." I don't want to live like Joseph's brothers.

I just want to trust that I am forgiven.


Jenn said...

me, too.

katdish said...

Is it because we fear God has not forgiven us, or is it that we haven't forgiven ourselves?

I think about things I've done in the past, knowing that I've asked for and been given forgiveness from God, yet I still cringe. I think it's because I feel the sin is not worthy of grace. I thank God that He is God and I am not.

Andrew in Delaware said...

Good stuff man.
It's easy to forget forgiveness because it's contrary to our nature. It's a divine idea and it never feels like the instinctive response for us.
That's why unless we continually practice forgiveness ourselves, we will resist it (or forget it) when it comes our way.
If forgiveness isn't integrated somewhere into the practice of our everyday lives, we won't accept its power, remember its power, or believe in its power.

Donna said...


Anonymous said...

God forgave us at the beginning of Jesus's crucification, but we still beg of repentance and feel guilty of everything we did.
We forget, we have to keep being reminded.

Thanks John.

Campman62 said...


"Let's Wear Our Fogiveness Like a Crown Instead of a Ball & Chain."

~10k TY's 4 u'r post & PTL 4 His 'awesomeness' in 'forgiving & forgetting' our sins.

SunnyD said...

This post was great. I am responding for the first time on your blogs. I have been content to read SCL and laugh. However, this one caught me and gripped me. I, too, live in forgetfulness that Christ actually went to the point of dying for my sins and therefore WANTS to forgive me. Sometimes I think we have heard it so much about Him dying for our sins that we just get to the point of "yeah, yeah, He died for me over 2,000 years ago...heard it a million times." or atleast our actions reflect that we think that. I know I just close myself off from Him in a fit of shame all the while giving satan a wide-open foothold in my life. We aren't perfect. I need to accept that and come to Him seeking forgiveness rather than forgetting that He died for me. I need to see it in the way I'm ignoring His forgiveness, I am saying that my sin in bigger than He is and that His dying on the cross wasn't good enough to cover my sins. Thanks for your insight and your willingness to share Christ.

Collins said...

Awesome, awesome post. I really needed to hear that. I read once that "to be a Christian is to forgive the inexcuseable." I wonder how much of our forgiveness-difficulty is us forgiving ourselves once we accept that God has forgiven us.