I’m sure I can speak for more than just myself when I say that it is often more difficult to forgive myself than to forgive others. I have specifically felt immense guilt over certain relationships that it has taken years for me to even try to forgive myself. Even when I thought I had forgiven myself, I expected punishment from God. I felt that anything that went wrong was a direct result of my sin. Maybe you’re one of those people who have a difficult time forgiving yourself or expect punishment. Or maybe you know someone like that. Share this with them.
It just so happens that we were discussing forgiveness in the parenting class I attend while I was in the midst of several devotionals, one of which centered around forgiveness. On one particular day, I was reading through my devotionals only to realize that not just one, but ALL of them focused on forgiving oneself. I felt strongly that God was speaking to me that day and had to share with you some of the things I read.
First of all, we can’t focus on our sins. We can’t hold onto them. Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson says in her book Trusting God with Your Dream, “Wallowing in the past will keep us stuck in the past and incapable of moving into the fresh start God has planned for us in the present…God, in His infinite wisdom, forgives our sins in the blink of an eye because He can see the big picture…God sees us as He created us, with all our faults but also with all our strengths and beauty. After all, we are His children.”
Second, God doesn’t punish us for our every sin. If I sin today, He won’t smite me with His worst punishment; however, we need to take our sins into account and sincerely repent for them. In 31 Days of Forgiveness by Tracie Stier-Johnson, we are told that “God doesn’t punish us for sin. If we are believers in Christ Jesus and have repented of our sin, it’s gone. Our sins have been nailed on the cross with Jesus…If we are believers in Christ Jesus and have repented of our sin, it’s gone…If sin continually remains in our lives and we don’t repent and turn from that sin, God may require His divine discipline. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t be a loving and concerned Father…if you’re living a life of repeated sin and could care less what God thinks about it, you may find yourself under His discipline.” After all, negative actions (sin) have consequences.
God wants us to be redeemed! After all, He has torn the veil that separated us from Him. He conquered death and made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. Max Lucado reminds us of this in Pocket Prayers. God is eager to forgive us. Let us pray that we and those close to us can let go of any guilt they cling to.
Remember today that Psalm 103:10 says: “He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.”
“After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, ‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.’ As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplines us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
– Hebrews 12:4-11