Can We Really Ever Forget?

1 Corinthians 13:5; Psalm 119:165; Matthew 7:1-5

A question flashes through my head as I write these words: can our minds actually allow us to forget?

The way God has made us with that internal filing system we call “memory”—it is doubtful we can fully forget even the things we want to forget.

Please understand that I’m not referring to forgetting in the technical or literal sense of the term. Rather, I’m thinking about forgetting the same way Paul did in 1 Corinthians 13:4–5 when he said:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.

True servants, when demonstrating genuine love, don’t keep score. Webster’s defines forget as “to lose the remembrance of . . . to treat with inattention or disregard . . . to disregard intentionally: OVERLOOK . . . to cease remembering or noticing . . . to fail to become mindful at the proper time.”1Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 2007), see “forget.”

That’s the thought. A couple verses of Scripture illustrate and encourage this greathearted virtue.

Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble. (Psalm 119:165)

The psalmist openly declares that those who possess a deep love for God’s Word will have great measures of His shalom . . . and, in addition, they will be big enough to resist stumbling over offenses.

Jesus hinted at this when He spoke out against a judgmental spirit. Read His words carefully.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1–5)

So, as we talk about “forgetting,” let’s understand that we mean:

  • Refusing to keep score (1 Corinthians 13:5)
  • Being bigger than any offense (Psalm 119:165)
  • Harboring no judgmental attitude (Matthew 7:1–5)

“Forgetting” an offense means we refuse to keep score and harbor no judgmental attitude.

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This

Taken from Improving Your Serve by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.

1 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 2007), see “forget.”
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Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.