Forgiveness. That’s the topic this month. If you haven’t had a chance to read what Kim and Jennifer have to say about it, take a look at their perspectives. My guess is most of us can use several different angles to embrace the significant role it plays in our relationships.
There’s a reason we hear so many sermons on forgiveness: because it’s hard to forgive. We can want to because we know we should. Even then, our flesh may argue and say “I don’t want to” or “I can’t”. Certainly, I’ve participated in those internal wrestling matches.
What do you do when the person you need to forgive most (or first) is yourself? What do you do when you were the one in the wrong?
Forgiving ourselves may be the very place many of us need to start the grace-filled process. How we treat ourselves reflects how we will treat others. Every relationship we have is first sourced in the relationship we have with me, myself, and I.
If we judge ourselves harshly, we will judge others in that fashion as well.
We’re all more fragile than perhaps we’re willing to admit. We need to be gentle and tender with ourselves, because God calls us to be kind and gentle—to ourselves too. Repent, yes. Absolutely. Beat ones’ self up? No. Absolutely not.
Some people feel they don’t deserve forgiveness. I’ve felt that way before. I’ve been my very best punisher, at least some of the time. Maybe you have done that to yourself too.
Early in my walk with the Lord, I disassociated from my sinful self. I was ashamed of “her” – who I was before the Lord set this former captive free. My finger pointed disapprovingly at me. I was harsh with who I once was, running fast and far from my former actions. Perhaps this is where the saying “shame on you” comes from. When we don’t forgive ourselves, we’re participating in the enemy’s plan to place shame on us and inhibit our effectiveness for Christ.
When we don’t feel worthy, who else will think we are? That’s exactly where the enemy wants to keep us. Inhibited. Ineffective. In shame. And shame leads to sin. Think about it. It stands to reason if we think we’re not worthy of forgiveness, we could think “might as well just go ahead and sin anyhow”. I’ve seen this in my own life. I’ve seen it in ministry. It’s an awful sight.
It’s an avoidable sight.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law.—Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
Against such things there is no law. There is no law against being kind and gentle with ones’ self. We need to be. Our destiny depends on it. As we grow in our ability to be kind and gentle toward ourselves, the Spirit will produce even more good fruit in and through us. We’ll be gentle with others as well.
So if you are in a place where you find it difficult to forgive yourself, consider the impact on God’s kingdom. Do it for the sake of all the good fruit you will produce for God. Don’t let shame and unforgiveness interfere with your destiny. What God has planned for you is far too important for that!
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.—Ephesians 2:10 ESV
Forgiveness is one of those good works God desires us to walk in. He prepared forgiveness before we were born. He packaged it, expecting one day we’d open the box in anticipation of all it offered. He shed His blood on the cross so we could walk, head held high knowing we are forgiven and free and blessed beyond measure. We know we don’t deserve forgiveness, yet we accept it. Fully. God wants us to.
Don’t return the gift He has given.
It’s yours. He wants you to have it. Receive it even if it’s extravagant. It is and that’s by God’s design. Forgiveness packs the power to transform your relationship with God, yourself, and everyone else you encounter.
What is God asking you to forgive yourself for today? How will forgiveness affect the relationship with yourself? How will forgiving yourself affect the relationships you have with others?
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