In my last post, I wrote about the messy subject of forgiveness. In that post, I mainly dealt with forgiving another person. But today I want to talk about something that goes a bit deeper – forgiving ourselves.
Sometimes it can feel easier to forgive other people than it is to forgive ourselves, if we have sinned or made a mistake that we deeply regret. We tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we do other people. We tend to be our own worst critic. And we tend to beat ourselves up when we stumble.
Why should we forgive ourselves?
1 – Grace through Jesus
We all are going to make mistakes because we are human. It says in Romans 3:23 that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But God offers us a beautiful gift called grace. If we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, that means we are forgiven. It says in Psalm 103:12 that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” And it says in Micah 7:19, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” And it says in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Please know that if Jesus is your Lord and Savior, then you are forgiven. You have been washed clean. There is nothing from your past that can entangle you anymore.
2 – God wants you to
Forgiveness is a command. If we are commanded to forgive others, then doesn’t that mean we should also forgive ourselves? God wants you to live in peace. He didn’t send His only Son to die for your sins so that you could live in misery for the rest of your life. God loves you with an immeasurable love. And that means He wants you to live with contentment, not regret. If one of your children made a mistake, wouldn’t you want them to move on with their life and live in peace? Then how much more does your heavenly Father feel the same about you?
3 – You are not higher than God
If God has forgiven us, shouldn’t we also forgive ourselves? Some might think that is too easy and that we shouldn’t let ourselves off the hook. But God no longer condemns you, so you should no longer condemn yourself either. When we do not forgive ourselves, it is like saying that we know more than God does, we are smarter than Him, and we know what can and can’t be forgiven. Jesus already paid the full price for your sins. There is no balance on your debt. Yet, too often, we live our lives as though we must continue to pay.
4 – Satan doesn’t want you to
I love what R.T. Kendall says in his book How To Forgive Ourselves Totally, “I have believed for a long time that one of the ways to know the will of God is to imagine what the devil would want you to do—then do the opposite.” This is so true about so many things in life. And one in particular is the matter of forgiveness, whether we are forgiving someone else or forgiving ourselves. The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44) and the accuser (Revelation 12:10). So he is going to use any lie and accusation he can to keep you from living freely in Jesus. The enemy will tell you that you can’t possibly forgive yourself because what you did was too awful. The enemy will also tell you that God hasn’t really forgiven you, because that would be too easy. We must stand strong against the enemy and his tactics. And one way to do that is to forgive yourself.
If you are plagued with guilt and unforgiveness towards yourself, please prayerfully release it to the Lord. Explain to God how you are feeling about your regrets. Tell Him that you are ready to move on with healing. Let Him know that you are handing all your sins and past mistakes over to Him. And you are not going to pick them back up again. Each time the devil tries to remind you of your failures, tell him that Jesus has already forgiven you and that he cannot hold that over you anymore. If you are consistent and determined, you can find peace. Remember that you are forgiven and deeply loved.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas