A few weeks ago, we talked about forgiveness in Kairos. After the teaching session, we had several conversations and emails asking the same question: “How do we forgive ourselves?” You know the feeling. You screw up. You ask forgiveness from the people you hurt and they genuinely forgive you. You honestly confess to Christ and have assurance He has forgiven you.
But you still feel bad.
So, we think there is something missing…like maybe forgiving ourselves. Well, maybe…or maybe not. What do I mean by that? I mean maybe we are asking the wrong questions. Perhaps a familiar story can help us. In Luke 15, we have the story of the Prodigal Son. How does the young son react when he realizes he has made a mistake? He determines to go home and say to his father, “I have sinned against heaven and against you.” (Luke 15:21). Notice, he didn’t say he had sinned against himself. Surely, his decisions had hurt him as a person, but he doesn’t look for self-forgiveness. What needs to be fixed is his relationship with God and his father. The young man understood the problem was between God, his father and himself. That’s where the forgiveness had to happen.
And when it happens, you can only receive it. You can’t do anything to earn the forgiveness. You receive it as a gift or not at all.
Sometimes feeling bad can be used to help us understand the seriousness of our mistake, but more times than not, feeling bad is disguised doubt. We doubt Jesus has forgiven us. We doubt if Jesus CAN forgive us. Surely, we reason, it can’t be that easy. It’s not. It’s just something we can’t do. Jesus paid an awful price for our mistakes. The forgiveness has to come from Him.
Here is what I am finding out about being forgiven…when I still feel bad about something, I need to spend more time praying about it. There is something for me to learn, something that needs to be understood at a different level and in order for that to happen, I need to spend a lot more time in prayer.
The issue isn’t forgiving myself. The issue is understanding (as much as I can) the depth of Christ’s love for me revealed in His forgiveness for me.
Are you stuck here? Good. Jesus wants the conversation to continue. Make some time to be alone with Him. You have much to learn. Don’t panic or be afraid. Jesus is a patient and good teacher.