By Mike Kearns
I tend to imagine how different my life would be if I had made different decisions. But, I could have or should have type of thinking can be very destructive. Making good decisions without the correct knowledge and experience is difficult. So, why do we beat ourselves up? Would we be as harsh and demanding toward others as we sometimes act toward ourselves?
We all need to feel accepted. But it will never happen if we can’t accept ourselves.
We can’t do that if we don’t forgive ourselves for past mistakes. Recognizing this need can be difficult. It’s easier and less painful to blame others for our problems.
We have to receive God’s truth that we love because he first loved us. We need to fully understand and embrace his love if we are to be free of unforgiveness. We need to fully experience God’s forgiveness so that we can forgive ourselves and others.
Being okay with one’s self is a strong emotional need. It’s stronger than our need to actually do what is right. Paul teaches in Romans 10:3 that if we don’t understand God’s way to be made righteous, we will establish our own way. Our way doesn’t work. But there’s good news! God has given us a perfect way.
In Romans 7, Paul contrasts the old covenant law against faith in Christ. Both covenants are ways God gave for humans to gain right standing with himself. One is far superior to the other.
Ephesians 1:7 tells us that we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. God has made us righteous. Through Jesus, he removed his wrath from us. God required no effort from us to make this happen.
God’s favor and love gives us the confidence to love others. His Spirit empowers us to accept ourselves and be free of blame, guilt, and fear. We overflow with all spiritual blessings as we come to fully grasp these truths. Our family, neighbors, and friends reap the benefits of these blessings.
God has fulfilled his plan for our salvation so that we may know him and the power of his resurrection. This is demonstrated in Luke 7:44-47. Jesus explains that a very sinful woman was made free of guilt. Her capacity to love was increased immeasurably because of her willingness to forgive and be forgiven.
The religious leaders could not or would not recognize their need to be forgiven. They were not able to love very much. Instead, they practiced looking down on others in order to feel better about themselves. We must see the need and have the desire for forgiveness from our past failures. Otherwise, we are hindered from experiencing and sharing Jesus’s mercy and love. The result is a critical attitude toward ourselves and others.
I have noticed this in my own life. I struggle with a critical spirit when I don’t forgive myself.
Someone recently told me, “I don’t believe you are a good Christian. I have seen several times that you were rude and self-centered in your behavior.” I felt very hurt by this.
Later, I realized I was wrong and needed to acknowledge that to God. Through God’s grace and mercy, I could agree I had been wrong. But I still have peace with God because I’m justified by my faith (Romans 5:1). I know God has already forgiven me. Therefore, I can also forgive myself. Otherwise, I’d be disagreeing with God. He thinks I’m valuable enough to forgive!
Lord, please help us to fully understand your grace. Quiet our minds. Help us to give you control. Let us receive your peace. Make us to be still, and know that you are God.
We all struggle with unforgiveness toward ourselves and others. Allow God’s word to heal any wounds and transform your thinking. Meditate on one of the following verses for each of the next 13 days. Speak them over yourself and to the Lord. God bless you!
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