But forgiveness is also a word loaded with action! Forgiveness only happens when action is taken, right? The ACT of forgiving. We could focus on so much when it comes to the action of forgiving, but today, I'd like to focus on forgiving YOURSELF - who, for many of us, is probably the hardest person to forgive. When was the last time you actively forgave yourself? I know that might be a strange concept for some of us, but when? When was the last time you did something that you regretted, had to ask someone for forgiveness, AND THEN actively forgave yourself for the wrong-doing? When was the last time you said something that was misunderstood and even though the other person didn't hold it against you, you held it against yourself and carried that guilt with you?
There are many situations in which we might find a need to forgive ourselves so that we don't carry around the guilt and condemnation that comes with UNforgiveness. And, if God can forgive us, then shouldn't we forgive ourselves?
Here's the devotion I read last week. It's written by Os Hillman.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9
The apostle Peter was one of three disciples who walked with Jesus closer than the other nine. He was the most enthusiastic and the one man who was willing to step into territories where others would not dare. He was the first to step out of the boat and walk on water. He wanted to protect Jesus at times when Jesus rebuked him for having a demon influence him. He cut off the ear of the guard who wanted to arrest Jesus in the garden. As Peter matured, the Holy Spirit harnessed his many extreme emotions.
The greatest trial for Peter was when he denied the Lord just before Jesus was crucified. Three times he denied knowing Jesus. Jesus predicted that the cock would crow after the third time just to reinforce the prophecy to Peter. Peter was crushed when he realized he had failed His Lord so badly.
The Lord forgave Peter for his denial. However, gaining forgiveness from Jesus was not the most difficult part for Peter. The hard part was forgiving himself. As we mature in the faith, we begin moving in victory after victory with our Lord. Then out of nowhere, an event happens that reveals our true sin nature, and we are confronted face to face with this reality. We cannot believe that we are capable of such sin. There is no good thing in us save the grace of Jesus Christ and His blood that cleanses us. When God looks at us, He looks at the blood of Christ that has covered our sin. He does not look at our sin once we confess it.
When we have difficulty forgiving ourselves, this is pride at its deepest level. We are making an assumption that we should never have sinned and that we are too mature to sin. This is a trap from the enemy of our souls. People who cannot forgive do not recognize from what they have been forgiven. That includes us."
Satan is the author of confusion and he's rather good at it! If you've considered yourself to be a Christian for a long time, sometimes it's REALLY hard to forgive yourself when "confronted face to face with [the] reality" that we are still capable of sin. We still hurt others with our words, we still do things we shouldn't, we still think things we wouldn't dare vocalize. And because of that, Satan can really push the guilt on us! He can confuse the issue - make us feel we are being humble by being hard on ourselves, rather than potentially prideful. He can confuse the facts that Jesus' blood covers ALL sin no matter who sinned and no matter when we sinned.
And if you are a new believer in Jesus, Satan can confuse the fact that no matter who you are or what you've done or haven't done, if you confess your sins and believe in Jesus, you will be saved. That's it! Jesus' blood that He shed on the cross covers ALL the sin and God FORGIVES ALL THE SIN! His forgiveness is not an excuse to keep sinning, but rather a call to actively forgive and, as Jesus said, "Go and sin no more."
If you are trying to become all God created you to be, then maybe you should forgive yourself of your past - whether distant past or recent past - and move toward Him. His arms are open. He forgives you - maybe you should, too! :)
Thanks for being you!
Q: Can you think of something right now for which you've had a hard time forgiving yourself? How did you handle it? Have you forgiven yourself? Comment on this post, or email us with your answer. (You don't need to give details of what you needed to forgive, just answer the latter questions.)