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Devotionals : Forgiving Ourselves
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Forgiving Ourselves

By Michael Lane, Executive Director, Delve Christian Ministries
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And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. - Hebrews 10:21-22

The last devotional discussed the topic of forgiveness, but one important aspect was not addressed and that is the issue of forgiving oneself. It would seem that of all the people who have wronged us, the easiest to forgive would be ourselves since we are uniquely able to judge the depth of our own remorse and forgive accordingly. However, that is a misconception which we covered in the previous devotional; true forgiveness does not depend on the wrongdoer's level of remorse. We need to forgive for our sake and for the sake of our relationship with Christ, even if the offender will not even acknowledge the hurt they have caused. Forgiveness is for our benefit, not theirs.

Why is it often so hard to forgive ourselves? Being both the wronged and the wrongdoer places us in the awkward position of being able to reject the forgiveness. A thief cannot reject the forgiveness his victim offers since it is not for his sake that it is offered. Yet, we can and often do refuse the choice to forgive ourselves because we are experiencing tremendous guilt and believe that we deserve more punishment. Failing to forgive ourselves is one way to keep the punishment in effect. It is a way for us to martyr ourselves over and over again.

The foolishness of this practice should be self evident. What can our self inflicted punishment do to help our victim, or for that matter, ourselves? What good can come of it?

It's common to hold on to guilt and shame when we've hurt someone, but those feelings do not come from God. They come from our enemy, Satan. Guilt and shame prolong pain and suffering while providing nothing of value to anyone. They leave us looking back, and while we're busy focusing on the past, it's very difficult to move forward with Christ.

Instead of guilt, God requires repentance. These two words mean very different things. Repentance is an acknowledgment of the wrong we have done followed by a commitment to change our ways, but guilt carries no such commitment. Guilt causes us to live in the shadow of our past disgrace, while repentance looks forward in anticipation of God's grace.

We know that because of Christ's amazing sacrifice, all our sins are forgiven whenever we call upon the Lord with a repentant heart. God has the most perfect sense of justice in all of creation, yet in His mercy He has decreed that all offenses are paid in full by Christ's blood for those who call Him Savior. In His eyes, we stand worthy to be forgiven.

If we fail to forgive ourselves, what we are saying is that we have a more stringent standard of justice than God's and by our standard, we are not worthy of forgiveness. In other words, we know better than God, and though He might decide that it's fine to forgive us, we know better.

What does that say about Christ's sacrifice, by which we're reconciled to the Father? What message do we send to God when we will not forgive ourselves? If God forgives our offense, surely we must do the same otherwise we demonstrate some measure of contempt for the cross.

We must forgive ourselves as we forgive others and for all the same reasons - so that we can move past anger, bitterness, loss and regret. There is no honor in guilt and there is nothing to be gained in prolonging our punishment. There is no exception in God's laws about forgiving ourselves so we must remember to apply this commandment to ourselves. Never forget that guilt and shame come from the Enemy, so do not give them a foothold. Replace guilt with repentance and begin moving ahead to where Jesus is waiting to continue His walk with you.

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Thank you thats very good, i have never looked at like that, God is so good, we get what we need on time, God bless you all.
11/1/2008 11:45:10 PM - mammak, Member of Delve into Jesus since 9/3/2008

A very timely devotional.
11/2/2008 11:07:16 AM - anonymous

As i was getting ready for the day I was struggling with this concept. When I opened this bookmark I was happy to find the title. This is truly a timely devotional.
11/3/2008 10:55:04 AM - anonymous

Thank you so much for putting this site up. Ever since I was small I never forgive myself for some things I have done. I always said that I hated myself and just wish I was never born. But because of what I just read, I was able to forgive myself at last. You are right, if God is able to forgive me so easily, why can't I forgive myself easily?
11/3/2008 10:59:53 PM - anonymous

Thank you! I didnt know that not forgiving myself signifies a rejection of Christs death on the cross. This is an important motivation for me to forgive myself.
11/7/2008 12:01:50 PM - anonymous

Our pastor spoke on this, in part, just yesterday! We often feel guilty and like God turns his back on us when we mess up. This passage reminds us that it is not true! Also check out Romans 3:21.
12/2/2008 7:52:11 AM - anonymous

I have had a hard time dealing with past failures and mistakes I have made. Everytime something bad happens, or life sends me a blow, I attribute it to the fact that I have messed up so many times before that God is TIRED of getting me out of some nasty situations. After reading the devotional above, it gives me hope. I still can't fully "Let GO'', but it shows me that GOD has not given up on me and he is just waiting for me to forgive me and then he will step right in.

Thanks for allowing me to share
12/4/08 11:55 AM - Hampton, VA
12/4/2008 11:55:27 AM - anonymous

My friend and I had just exchanged an email regarding the importance of forgiving "self". God wants us to be free to experience the joy of each new day. We cannot do that when we constantly focus on the past mistakes of our lives. This makes it clear that guilt which never ceases comes from "the enemy". This is a good devotional reading.
12/9/2008 3:35:36 PM - anonymous

Thanks for this devotional. Is good to remember that forgiveness is central to our Christian faith..The cross is central to forgiveness of sin and our salvation. I think many dont get the entire concept of why Jesus had o come.
Jesus is the only way to forgiveness, I suppose that why He was/is call the Way. I do understand the biblical concept of forgiveness and also that it is not our deeds that make us right with God but our belief that bring us to the righteousness of God..I think these two things are central to our Chrsitian faith and it'a always a good to remember what our messiah has done for us, He has set us free from the bondage of self seeking guilt.
12/9/2008 7:11:14 PM - anonymous

i was blessed by the devotion thank you from michael elcampo texas
12/16/2008 1:08:15 PM - anonymous

Very thought provoking, thanks from a very cold Michigan
12/16/2008 9:02:04 PM - anonymous

Blessings in Christ, Thank you for your words of Wisdom. I am praying for th gift of Repentence. I have not been able to come to this place. Please forgive me Father. In Jesus Name Amen
12/17/2008 2:05:45 AM - anonymous

I'm still searching in how to forgive myself while practicing being new and showing that I truly deserve forgiveness. It is very conflicting, I know. I have good days and bad moments. What I did isn't something I can forget easily and am very thankful that my husband loves me enough and willing enough to be a part of my forgiving process. I just wish I could be stronger in believing in me!

God certainly works miracles or else I wouldn't be blessed with so many loved ones believing in me more than I believe in myself!
12/28/2008 2:17:21 PM - anonymous

thank you for this post, its always good to be reminded of these things............for i myself have wrestled with such...............I thank Jesus !
2/23/2009 3:50:53 PM - catina, Member of Delve into Jesus since 5/19/2008

thank you very much for this.
6/6/2009 10:28:30 AM - anonymous

Thank you i have been caring alot of guilty around and don't know who to release thank you
6/18/2009 9:09:21 AM - anonymous

this devotional has helped me a lot thank you
6/21/2009 7:44:24 PM - dpayne1, Member of Delve into Jesus since 5/20/2009

"Guilt and shame prolong pain and suffering while providing nothing of value to anyone. They leave us looking back, and while we're busy focusing on the past, it's very difficult to move forward with Christ."

I really enjoyed this devotional. I have struggled over the years forgiving myself which only results in a bitter circle of repeated sin which comes from a guilty conscience that lacks hope. Thanks for these words of wisdom.
1/3/2011 4:57:41 AM - Stept, Member of Delve into Jesus since 1/2/2011

I too struggled forgiving myself. It does give one maryter syndrome and does deny Christ's offer to forgive us. This devotional really helped me today. Thanks!
1/15/2013 10:42:01 AM - Psalm91, Member of Delve into Jesus since 9/12/2012

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