Forgive and Forget
The relationship of Hosea and his adulterous wife is illustrative of the relationship of God and the Israelite people.
Conflict in relationships is a major problem in churches. It is not unusual for persons who will not practice tolerance and forgiveness, will sit in the same congregation, sing the same songs and worship the one God. Some even work on church projects together, yet refuse to acknowledge one another in personal ways. Unresolved human conflict is destructive in any arena of life. Malice is a cancer that feeds on itself. Such conditions in the church are especially sad because the spirit of the church is depressed even though the church does not recognize it. The unwillingness of members to forgive and love one another has brought burn-out and discouragement to pastors and lay persons alike.
Hosea took Gomer to be his wife even though she was a harlot. With full knowledge of her sin, he loved her dearly. She continued in harlotry and eventually left Hosea. Nevertheless, with God’s prompting, Hosea went searching for her. When he found her he paid her consort to allow Hosea to restore her as his wife. His reason was simple: He loved her.
God showed Hosea how his love for Gomer was a human example of God’s love for Israel. They did not deserve divine love. They had adulterated the relationship by turning to false gods and by betraying the covenant. Still, God loved them. Forgiveness was waiting. Restoration was there to be received.
—Rev. Jean Richardson
- If God is that gracious in forgiveness and complete in love, can we do less than forgive one another?
- “Forgive and forget” is a commonly used adage. What does that mean? Can one literally erase from the memory bank past wrongs? Can “forgetting” be the same as “Letting the past be the past”?
- Is adultery an automatic out for marriage? Are couples expected to try to restore faithfulness and love even in the case of adultery?
- What conditions did Israel need to meet for them to experience God’s forgiveness and restoration?
How Do I Act?
- Many people suffer uncertainty about whether God has truly forgiven them even though they have sincerely sought mercy. If this applies to you, you are suffering needlessly. Believe the good news! “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
- Read Matthew 6:14.
- Has someone betrayed or hurt you? Have you hurt someone in anger or without thinking? Find a way to go to them and seek to resolve the conflict or wrong.
- Read the book Forgive & Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Lewis Smedes. There is also a study guide available for leaders.