If Only I Can Forgive Myself – Hope 103.2

If Only I Can Forgive Myself

We've all done things we regret. But here’s my suggestion to you—it may come as a surprise. It is not your job to forgive yourself. That's God’s job.

By Chris WittsFriday 1 Dec 2017Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 4 minutes

We’ve all done things we regret. Sometimes, once we recognise our mistakes, we can go back and correct them. Other times we can’t. The damage has been done. Memories and accusations flood our minds and we go through mental gymnastics with all the ‘if onlys’. Sometimes we plunge into a pit of despair.

Over the years I have heard people beat themselves up (not physically) saying things like I should have known better or, Why did I do such a stupid thing? or, I can’t believe I did that or, What’s wrong with me? And sometimes these themes run in our minds day and night—every mistake, sin, and failure. This is a very difficult issue to address. Maybe you’ve said it many times to yourself—I can never forgive myself.

It’s Not Your Job To Forgive Yourself

But here’s my suggestion to you—it may come as a surprise. The Bible doesn’t tell you to forgive yourself. That’s not your job. That’s not your responsibility. Somewhere along the line, the devil has tricked us into thinking it is important for us to forgive ourselves. That just puts the focus right back on me! And isn’t that the problem in the first place?

I’ll say it again. It is not your job to forgive yourself. Forgiving you is God’s job. Your job is to ask God for forgiveness. It is also your job to ask others for forgiveness. It is their job to forgive you. It is also your job to forgive others their sins against you. That’s what Jesus says we must do.

So, what we do? 1 John 1:9 says: “If we own up to our sins, God shows that he is faithful and just by forgiving us of our sins, and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done”. Once you have claimed God’s forgiveness, let it go. Take hold of his promise and live as you have done—without guilt.

What Your Real Job Is

We say that we can’t forgive ourselves because we really doubt that God has forgiven us. Or we don’t see our need for forgiveness from God, so we take over the job ourselves. Impossible. That can’t be done. Your job is to:

  • sincerely repent from what you’ve done that was wrong.
  • ask for forgiveness (from both God and the person who was wronged).
  • receive their forgiveness.
  • receive freedom from shame and guilt because the ones you have hurt have forgiven you.
  • rejoice in their forgiveness.
  • continue to amend your ways so you don’t hurt them again.
  • receive daily grace (from God) that empowers you to amend your ways.

When you ask Jesus into your life, he promises to give you the Holy Spirit as your best teacher and friend. He promises grace and strength for each day. It doesn’t make you perfect, of course, but it is a divine and supernatural aid to help. If God has forgiven you maybe it’s time for you to forgive yourself? You don’t need to live in shame, guilt, and condemnation anymore. You don’t need to beat yourself up for something God freed you from long ago.

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You Cannot Change The Past

Maybe you failed as a parent, as a friend, as a Christian, or as a leader. Maybe the thought of what you did brings new tears to your eyes, condemnation in your mind, and despair for the days to come. But you don’t have to live in that condemnation. Jesus came to die on a cross and forgive you for it.

Forgiving yourself is also important for those in your sphere of influence. It is a well-known fact that hurting people hurt others. The longer you avoid forgiving yourself, the longer you allow yourself to harbour the feelings that you deserve to suffer for what you did, the more explosive you will become and, therefore, the more apt you are to hurt others. It’s like a never ending cycle.

The reality is that you cannot change what has happened. You cannot restore lives to where they were before the event. However, you can make a difference in the lives of others. You can give back some of what you have taken away by finding a different place to invest your time and compassion.

Forgive yourself and let the healing begin! Forgiving yourself will change the direction of your life. You are not perfect—you will still make mistakes. François Fénelon, wisely wrote, “Go forward always with confidence, without letting yourself be touched by the grief of a sensitive pride, which cannot bear to see itself imperfect.”

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, I understand that there is nothing to gain by holding myself in unforgiveness and there is everything to gain by releasing myself from unforgiveness and beginning the process of healing. I want to move forward and make a positive difference in the future. Because Jesus died for my sins, I choose to forgive myself—to no longer punish myself and be angry with myself. I forgive myself for letting this hurt control me and for hurting others out of my hurt. I repent of this behaviour and my attitude. I ask for your forgiveness and healing. God, help me to never again retain unforgiveness of myself or others. Thank you for loving me and for your grace to move forward with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.