Trusted friends are like precious treasure. When they give me feedback on what I’ve written, I listen! I listen closely to what they share with me. Not only do I trust them, but statistics say that for every one opinion, you can count at least 1,000 others that feel the same way. With that in mind, let me share what transpired yesterday.
Last week when I published “On Forgiveness: I Can’t Do It On My Own”, I heard back from a lifelong friend. He left a comment mentioning that “being willing and able to forgive ourselves” may be an issue for some. Wow, did that strike a chord with me. I NEVER thought to include that in my recent post. Forgiving ourselves can be a real challenge!
Yesterday, I was alerted that my latest blog (same as above), posted on Facebook, had some comments on it. When I looked at it, another dear, “lifelong” left a similar comment about “hoping we could also be able to forgive ourselves".
Two identical comments in 24 hours and I knew I needed to continue this. So here we are. And by God’s grace we’ll unpack what it takes to forgive ourselves. At this writing, the reading of “On Forgiveness: I Cant’ Do It On My Own”, is the most read post on my website. Forgiveness and how to work through it in our day-to-day lives seems to definitely be a need in the Body of Christ.
When I began to pray about this, my first thoughts were the Biblical example of forgiveness found in John 21:15-32 where Jesus so lovingly restored Peter on the beach early one morning shortly after His resurrection. Do you remember what Peter did and why he needed restoration to Jesus? Just before Jesus’ crucifixion, after stating he’d die with Jesus and never deny him, (read Matthew 26:31-35~it’s chilling), Peter denied Him not once, not twice, but three times…he said he didn’t know Him! I can only imagine how Peter struggled to even begin to forgive himself!
But if Jesus can forgive, restore, then commission Peter to apostleship, leadership, teaching, pastoring, and shepherding His dear ones, He certainly can forgive us and desires to use us, as well. Knowing that, it’s imperative that we accept His release from condemnation, both self-imposed and also the subtle suggestion from the enemy of our souls, that we could never forgive ourselves.
It seems that knowing we are completely forgiven isn’t the issue for many of us. Rather, it’s totally accepting His amazing forgiveness and then walking in the freedom and relief that comes with owning that truth.
But as we see, many of us have difficulty forgiving ourselves for the things we have done and said…the people we have hurt…the lives we may have altered due to our choices. Perhaps we find ourselves still doing the same things, even after we have walked with the Lord.
Maybe it’s our marriage…the way we’ve treated our spouse. Or perhaps it’s the struggles we’ve had raising our teenage children and how we’ve spoken to them in disgust or anger or fear. Relationships can be so difficult and we can manage our emotions poorly at times. Parents, siblings, church family…I know how I have struggled to forgive myself for wrong or foolish things I’ve said or done.
Looking back on who I was before I met Jesus, I had every reason to condemn myself for the way I lived my life. But I have tasted and seen, first hand, the beauty of forgiveness. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I could never, in and of myself, be what I need to be, even now, as His child. His love and forgiveness, His grace, His mercies that are new every morning…setting my affections on these things…that is how I get up each day. I see myself, not as perfect, but as precious in His sight…His own dear child…His work in progress.
We have the enduring promise that He will continue the work He has begun in us until we leave for Heaven. - Philippians 1:6
Considering the work Jesus so willingly accomplished on the Cross for our forgiveness and our freedom, who are we to call that most holy and powerful work incomplete? Isn’t that what we’re calling it when we hang on to the self-condemnation that desires to suffocate us? It’s that very mindset of self-condemnation that renders us chained, in a sense, and certainly doesn't line up with Scripture.
Everything in me wants to call that mindset an insult to our Abba Father, but as I’m writing, instead, I sense that His response to us clinging to self-condemnation and the unwillingness to forgive ourselves is one of grief rather than anger or insult. He longs for us to see ourselves the way He sees us~ loved and precious to His heart! Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers them NO MORE!” I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.” There are countless Scriptures that assure us that we have been cleansed and the price has already been paid for our sin, and we can do this if we will follow His lead! So I’m just here to send a reminder of that beautiful Truth and urge us all to cling to His Word, walk in His Truth…run with patience…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every hinderance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith!” (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
God has a work for us to do this side of Heaven. Like we read in Esther 4:13…“Who knows, perhaps you have come to this place for such a time as this”(paraphrased). He knows that we need to cling to Him in order to fulfill His plans and purposes for our lives.
We have to be free ourselves to bring freedom to a desperate, dark, dying world. And the beauty of it all is…I can't do it on my own! But, oh, do I have a God who can create a clean heart in me and restore a right spirit within me! (Psalm 51:10)
Release comes when we begin to thank Him for who He has made us, for how He sees us, for all He has done and taken on to secure our healing, our deliverance, and our freedom.
THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD; TO THOSE WHO ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSES.
It’s my earnest prayer that you will go now to your Scriptures and read Romans 8:28-39.
What precious words of life are ours in Jesus, our Savior! His Word speaks a beautiful picture of hope to our hearts!
We live in a needy world with people who long for hope and an answer to why they are here. The enemy knows this. He will do whatever he can to render us useless, frozen, trapped by our own estimation of ourselves. We can’t allow ourselves to be caught in the web of self-condemnation.
In the light of God’s Love, and His plans for our lives, each of us should ask ourselves if we are willing to throw off the chains of self-condemnation and instead allow the Lord to wrap us in His love, assuring us of how precious we are to Him?
Will you pursue Jesus, search His Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to breathe Truth into your heart instead of the lies we so easily believe when it comes to our self-worth?
I hope so…I’m praying we all will live in the freedom He has prepared for us to dwell in this side of Heaven! And as we do…we can look with grateful eyes to a wonderful God who's made it all possible through the willing sacrifice He gave when He sent Jesus to take our sin on Himself. What a gift!
It’s living in this freedom that we become a picture of hope to those that have no hope. Will you be that picture? I want to be that picture of hope…but the scary thing is…I can’t do it on my own.
When I’m faced with the fear that I just can’t do it, I deliberately remember Who it is that has begun the good work in me…I deliberately remember the One who promises to continue that work in me until He comes to take me home…and I cherish my ordinary days and all they hold for me. By His grace, each day, I can express my gratitude to Him for my very life…my breath…and the precious gift of being His own dear child.
On this journey together, Deb
~Grace~ …God doing in us what we could never do on our own… ~Oh, how grateful I am for His grace!~ I can’t do this on my own!