Does Forgiving Mean Forgetting?

The simple answer to that question is no. But that leaves so many questions. Let me share a true story, with the names changed of course.

Jack was an employee with a lot of personality and soon won the confidence of Boss. As he advanced in the company, he also won Boss’s heart and was a frequent guest in his home. A real relationship was formed, and Boss treated Jack as a son.

One day Jack and the company truck didn’t show up for work. After it became apparent that Jack had stolen the truck and left, Boss didn’t file a police report. As a Christian who practiced mercy in his life he believed prison would not be good for Jack. He forgave the theft and grieved for Jack.

About a year later Jack showed up at the office. He apologized with tears, confessed he stole the truck and sold it. Now he was out of money with no place to go and needed a job. Would Boss give him a second chance? Please?

Boss said yes. It took a while, but Jack eventually regained Boss’s confidence on the job. After about a year of good behavior, Boss again welcomed Jack to his home. Although the relationship wasn’t the same, it became more comfortable.

One day Jack didn’t show up for work, and a valuable coin collection in Boss’s home was missing. Once again Boss chose to not file charges, because he believed if he forgave him that meant forgetting the crime had happened.

Jack was an amazingly brazen guy. After close to a year, he showed up at the job, out of money, no place to go and needed a job. He admitted he stole the coins, but he couldn’t return them. He had sold them all. Would Boss give him another chance? Please?

This is when Boss went to his pastor. He wanted to help Jack but was confused about what to do. Jack had fully demonstrated he could not be trusted, but Boss was willing to forgive him. What should he do?

The pastor explained that forgiveness is a gift you give to someone that releases the loss. However, forgiveness does not mean he had to trust Jack. Trust is earned. Boss could fully forgive Jack for stealing his truck, for stealing his coin collection, and for breaking trust.

But forgiveness did not mean he had to hire Jack again. Remembering that Jack was not trustworthy was wisdom—not a lack of forgiveness. Remembering the past damage to Boss’s company and his own personal loss meant drawing a boundary of what he would allow in the future. Remembering was wisdom.

To finish the story, Jack was forgiven, but he was not hired.