That’s right. The delete key. (I’m guessing you know about that one yourself.)
Like you, I can think of times when I was working away at something on my computer and accidentally pressed the delete button, only to watch all my hard work vanish into thin air, leaving behind nothing but a blank screen of forgotten words.
Yes, I know the software programmers thought ahead about people like me, making sure a little prompt would flash up and ask me if I was really, really sure I wanted to throw out a half-day’s work in one fell swoop. But I’ve been known to brush aside their kind warnings and move right on, losing everything I had done. It’s easy to do.
I wish the delete key was so easy to press in real life.
In many ways, what happens when we trash a computer document is a vivid picture of what takes place when we truly forgive someone for an offense they’ve thrust upon us. We eliminate it. We clear the record. We treat it as if the sin never occurred in the first place. Isn’t that the way God has forgiven us?
And isn’t that how He tells us to forgive others—“forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you” (Colossians 3:13)?
As believers, we are told that God has forgiven “all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13–14).
At one time, the “record” was right there, accusing us, exposing us, vindicating His righteous anger against us. But with one press of the delete key, our holy, merciful God erased the whole thing. Nothing was saved on a backup disk. Nothing printed out in hard copy. Nothing stored in a separate folder or filing cabinet in case it proved useful to whip it out again someday.
All of it, deleted. Forever. All because of Christ’s death on the cross—in our place. Debt canceled.
This was God’s way of dealing with what we had done to Him. And that is what He asks us to do with others’ sins against us.
I believe most of us, in our dealings with others and the pain they’ve brought into our lives, would love to get to that point. We’d love to see the pain and bitterness gone, a nonissue, done away with.
But the problem is, we know that just pushing a button won’t make all the feelings disappear. It won’t totally undo the damage or put everything back like it was. So why even try? Why set ourselves up for disappointment, perhaps leaving the door open for this to happen again and to hurt us even worse? Why go to all the emotional trouble of transacting forgiveness if it won’t repair the gaping hole in our hearts, at least not for a good long time?
Why would God ask for such a thing?
Because of a promise.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Lawrence Kimbrough, Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey to Freedom (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2008).
We have just released a new Bible Study based on Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book, Choosing Forgiveness.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Choosing Forgiveness, Lesson #1
What Happens When We Refuse?
Choosing Forgiveness, Lesson #2
The Promise of Forgiveness
Choosing Forgiveness, Lesson #3
The Art of Forgiveness
Choosing Forgiveness, Lesson #4
What True Forgiveness Is — And Isn’t
Choosing Forgiveness, Lesson #5
Returning a Blessing