I Can't Forgive Myself
This is the final post in a series on how to spot sneaky selfishness before it stops you (read the first post here). We talked about sneaky selfishness number one: The thought that "I am not enough" (read that post here) and then last week, we talked about sneaky selfishness number two: The thought that "It all depends on me" (read that post here).
Today we hit a difficult one. Even if we can stop thinking everything depends on us, and even if we can stop believing the lie that we are somehow not enough, we often let this stop us in our tracks: I can never forgive myself for _____________ (fill in the blank). We feel that because of something we did or said, we don’t deserve to live in victory--we feel disqualified--so we continually beat ourselves up over something that happened in the past.
Forgiveness is foundational to Christianity. In fact, Scripture requires two kinds of forgiveness: Christ forgives us when we hurt Him and we are told to forgive others when they hurt us. But nowhere does it mention that we need to forgive ourselves. The truth is, you really can’t forgive yourself—not because what you did is unforgivable, but because you don’t have the authority to forgive yourself.
The only way to atone for sin is death. In Old Testament times, this was done through the sacrifice of a spotless, perfect lamb. But then God sent THE Spotless, Perfect Lamb: His Son, Jesus. Jesus died on the cross and rose again for my sins and for your sins. Jesus forgives me the minute I ask for it. I DIDN’T die on the cross for my sins. Therefore, the responsibility to extend forgiveness to me is not mine. If I can't forgive myself, but Jesus already did, am I asserting my own authority above Jesus'? Can you see how this is a sneaky form of selfishness? There is no way you would be so arrogant as to place your own judgement above that of Jesus…right?
I know the sight of those black & white words may look harsh, but please go back and re-read them in the most loving voice you can imagine. I wish I could sit face to face with you and tell you this in person, because I know my point can easily be lost in a misinterpretation of text-tone. By mistakenly believing that you are responsible for forgiving yourself when Jesus has already done that for you, you are trapped in a sneaky form of selfishness. It's hard to hear that, but it's true--and I need you to hear it because much like viewing the behind-the-scenes of an optical illusion, once you see the truth of this, you'll be free from the lie once and for all!
So, stop trying to forgive yourself.
Take a deep breath in.
Now let it out.
All of those mistakes and wrong choices you made are redeemed through Christ, and He wants to use you to help others who are trapped in that very thing, and guide them towards freedom! Instead of letting shame hold you back from the important work God needs you to do, thank God that He has forgiven you and commit to move on from the past and walk forward in victory!
This life you've been given is a gift. But it's not about you.
I hope through this series you have learned that one key to living a life of victory is knowing the difference between humility and insecurity. Next time you begin to doubt who you are and what you are capable of doing, remember that the same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives in you, and the God that lives in you is bigger than the world you live in.
It's not about you--it's about God and how He plans to use the gifts and talents He placed in you to make an eternal impact in the lives around you. When we let our insecurities stop us from doing that, we are being selfish.
Time is running out—one way or another, we are going to see Jesus again soon. It’s been 2000 years since Christ had the victory over sin and the grave, and it may be another 2000 years before Christ’s return to this earth, but you and I don’t have that long—someday we will meet our own end. When that day comes, I want to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Insecurity keeps us focused more on ourselves and our lack than on what God wants us to do for Him through His abundance. We all should aim to be humble, but none of us want to be selfish. When we doubt ourselves, we doubt God. So today I challenge you...get over yourself!