Earlier this year, I found myself almost forgetting my niece’s birthday until the day of, and ended up having to send a belated present, sheepishly apologetic towards my sister and my niece for my mental lapse. I suppose we’ve all had it happen to us: “Where’d I put those car keys again? Did my child take a bath yesterday? What was the name of that person I was supposed to call?” Let’s face it, we forget things. It can be frustrating and sometimes embarrassing. It’s not because our brains can’t handle that much information. In fact, research shows it can store more information than we might care to know. Psychologist Robert Kraft writes this: “Forgetting can be frustrating. It leads to disappointing performance on exams. It forces us to retrace our steps or spend hours looking for a misplaced item. At times, it may embarrass us. But forgetting is necessary. It allows us to experience the world more fully and immediately. It helps us manage the painful events in our lives. And it encourages us to remember what’s important.” So then, what is important to remember?
Scripture is filled with things to remember and forget as instructed by the Lord.
Deuteronomy has several reminders to not forget the Lord and His promises like in 8:14:
Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
The New Testament echoes this in James 1:25:
But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
But there are some things we are supposed to forget as well: Paul urges in Phil 3:13-14:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
If we have past failures that corrode our hearts with shame and guilt, but we have claimed the promises of God in Christ Jesus, then we are called to forget these things for they do not have power over us any longer. Conversely, if we are hearing the Word of God preached every Sunday and meditating on His Word daily, we are being called to remember these things as important and vital and ask how they can influence each and every decision, relationship, and situation life throws at us. May God teach us the rhythm of remembering and forgetting so that we are shaped in the likeness of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
John Chung is a Ruling Elder.