“Just as we get angry with other people, we become angry with ourselves for not doing better and making fewer mistakes,” wrote Drs. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, who are both Psychiatrists and Christian counselors, in their wonderful book Happiness is a Choice.
“We are often critical with ourselves and harder on ourselves than we are on other people,” they observe. “We need to forgive ourselves of past mistakes and sin. God is aware of our weaknesses.”
There are many reasons why people fail to forgive themselves, but we observed three in yesterday’s post, which you ought to read first. This second of a four-part series will consider three consequences of not forgiving ourselves.
Make no mistake, guilt is a heavy load to carry. Robert Jeffress was right when he wrote, “Guilt is one of the most debilitating of human emotions. It wreaks destruction in our relationships and our spiritual lives. It is also a major cause of depression.”
Guilt accuses. Guilt condemns. Guilt is mentally draining. Physically demanding. And spiritually disastrous.
However, it depends on how we deal with guilt. When Christ was crucified, two men faced the issue of guilt.
Both Peter and Judas were chosen by Jesus to be apostles. Both men held respected positions. Judas was the Treasurer. Peter was the unofficial spokesman and a part of Jesus’ inner circle. Both had the opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet. They heard His stirring sermons. Witnessed His healing touch. And saw His powerful miracles.
Both Peter and Judas were imperfect men who committed sins. Judas placed a kiss of betrayal on Jesus’ cheek for 30 pieces of silver. And Peter denied knowing Jesus. Three times! And both men regretted their shameful actions.
However, they dealt with their guilt differently. Judas was filled with remorse, admitted his sin, yet took his own life. Peter, on the other hand, repented, rejoined the apostles, and returned to Jesus. Judas is remembered as a thief and a coward. Peter is remembered as a powerful proclaimer of the Word.
If you’re a Christian and have asked God’s forgiveness, you don’t need to live in guilt. Take heart in this promise. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Rom. 8:1)
There’s a little town in Northeast Texas near the Louisiana border called “Uncertain.” Although its population is only 94, I think a lot of Christians live in “Uncertain.”
They are uncertain about their salvation. Uncertain about God’s forgiveness. Uncertain about their future. Uncertain about their eternal destiny.
Uncertainty is mentally confusing. Emotionally exhausting. Physically fatiguing. And spiritually worrisome.
You can forgive yourself because you can be certain that God has forgiven you. David, the man after God’s own heart, who broke five of the ten commandments in his illicit relationship with Bathsheba, wrote these assuring words.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. (Ps 86:5)
Paul the apostle, formerly Saul the persecutor of Christians could write assuredly. “In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).
#3 False Humility.
People who carry a burden of guilt and are uncertain about their salvation say things like, “I don’t deserve any credit…I know what kind of life I’ve lived…Don’t ever brag on me…I’m not worthy of forgiveness…God could never forgive me.”
Real humility says, “I don’t deserve praise because I know what God has done in my life. False humility says, “I don’t deserve praise, because I know what I’ve done in my life.”
Like Paul, regardless of one’s checkered past, true humility can confidently proclaim, By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Cor 15:10).
The consequences of failing to forgive ourselves cripples our spiritual growth and suppress our God-given potential. D. Patrick Miller offers this advice and insight. “Never forget that to forgive yourself is to release trapped energy that could be doing good work in the world.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman