Forgive and forget is heard often enough and it sounds good, but it is not scriptural. Yes, we forgive. It is the first thing in our healing from the wounds done to us. Forgiveness is the door knob to let Jesus into your heart.
In the book of Revelation Jesus stands at the door and knocks. (Revelation 3:20) It never says that He opens the door; you must use the door knob on your side. That door knob is forgiveness. Your forgiveness prepares the way for all sorts of blessings from the Lord. There is no record of a knob on Jesus’ side.
But what about the offender? No, you are not supposed to forget. The Laws of man and the laws of God are all in place to discipline the offender. The crime of murder, for example, has no statue of limitations. 70 years can go by and the offender still brought to a court.
There is a reason for this; God and Man still hold offenders responsible for their behavior. Once you have forgiven the issue is no longer your business, but it is now the business of the Law. And the law is in place because past behavior is a predicator of future behavior. Judges decide sentences for criminals based on the pattern and seriousness of previous offenses. A shoplifter is not put in jail for 20 years as might be a rapist. The punishment not only fits the crime it fits the pattern of crime.
We should not forget the child rapist as we knows statistically he will have 70 victims before he is caught even once. This is a serious criminal pattern of behavior.
Forgiveness by the Law for the offender comes when he has shown not just repentance but what the Bible calls the “fruit of repentance.” It takes several growing seasons for fruit to show up. That is why we put people on probation after serving time. We need to see some life-changes before we let them return fully to society. All our forgiveness for someone has no power to correct them.
When we see the fruit of repentance as the scripture says, we know they are changed. We must judge ourselves whether we have fully forgiven and yes, it takes some time.