Sure, we know we have to forgive others but to forgive yourself is a whole other issue. People can be cruel and hurt us; deeply hurt us. Forgiveness, much like love is a choice and not an emotion.
There are certain offenses that are easy to forgive and others that are not so easy. No matter how little or big the offense, it is our responsibility to forgive. Jesus forgave us our sins and commanded us to forgive those who sin against us:
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you.’” Luke 6:36-38a.
Sometimes, once we are able to forgive the one who hurt us we still feel as though we do not deserve forgiveness ourselves. God does not condemn us so we should not condemn ourselves (John 3:17). We feel shame, embarrassment, and sometimes humiliation towards ourselves and wonder why we allowed this to happen to us. A lot of times this internal dialogue is hidden behind a mask of unforgiveness towards ourselves.
This unforgiveness can devour us and take the life from our soul. We must realize our worth in Christ and know that he has forgiven us and loves us. May we be encouraged by the words of Zophar found in Job 11:13-16.
“Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
When we commit our sins to Jesus and choose to not hold them captive in our hearts then we will stand firm and not have fear!
We find Jesus’ interaction with a woman caught in adultery recorded in John 8:3-11. This woman found herself humiliated standing in front of a crowd of respected community leaders with fingers pointed and whispers being told in her midst. Yet, Jesus took the time to deviate from his teaching in the temple to stand up for her and show her she was worthy of love and forgiveness.
In the same way, Jesus stands up for you when you make mistakes and seek his forgiveness. The Lover of your soul and Creator of the world will forgive you of your sins because he finds worth in you and loves you. We must forgive ourselves because we are worth it!