“Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others.”
Hi Beloved! I pray that you are having a blessed week! It’s October, yay! I really love the fall. The air is crisp, the leaves are so beautiful, and everything is pumpkin flavored (yum!). The fall season is also a time of reflection for me. For whatever reason, I start to reminisce about years past, initially with fondness, but somehow it always turned into regret. I got angry with myself for things I should have said, shouldn’t have said, should have done, shouldn’t have done.
Occasionally, it was regarding life choices, but mainly it was about relationships. Why was I so cold to this person? Why was I so self-absorbed that I didn’t see this person needed help? Why did I say such mean things to people? Why didn’t I care about others more?
Then the self-loathing would set in and I would start asking the questions, why am I such a loser? Why do I always say and do the wrong thing? Why can’t I be like (insert better person’s name here)? I would just wallow in regret.
Beloved, a lot of teachings focus on the forgiveness of others, but you need to focus on forgiving yourself just the same. Trust me, I know that it’s much easier said than done. When we make mistakes, we can be so hard on ourselves. We can let our guilt and regret consume us and take over. It can eventually have serious consequences. Self-loathing and self-hatred are behaviors that take years to develop and can take years to improve. They can lead to dangerous actions, such as cutting or self-mutilation and even suicide.
Beloved, I’m here to tell you that the Lord knows everything you have ever done in your life and He loves you! He even knows every bad thought that has entered your mind and He still loves you! He sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and wore a crown of thorns, so that your mind can be free from anguish and pain.
We are all far from perfect. Thankfully, we don’t have to be, because Jesus is. He wants you to walk in divine forgiveness. The bible is full of stories of people making mistakes and wrong choices that hurt themselves or hurt others. Two of these stories include Jesus’ disciples.
The first is Peter. In Matthew 26:34, Jesus spoke to Peter. “‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus declared, ‘this very night before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ Peter replied, ‘Even if I must die with You, I will never deny You.'” After Jesus’ arrest, Peter did a complete 180. “Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, ‘This man also was with him.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ And a little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not.’ And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, ‘Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about.’ And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:54-62)
He was feeling guilty and angry with himself. He lied and betrayed someone he loved. What happens next, shows the love of Jesus. After Jesus rose from the grave, the angel said to the women, “‘Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here! See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.'” (Mark: 16:7) The angel saying this is very significant, “go tell His disciples and Peter”. Jesus wanted him specifically to know that He wasn’t angry with him. He still loved him. In a later meeting, He even asked Peter to watch over his people, even though he denied Him, even though he wasn’t perfect and Peter went on to become a very important figure to the early church.
The second is Judas. He betrayed Jesus for silver. “Then one of the Twelve, the one called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?’ And they set out for him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time on Judas looked for an opportunity to betray Jesus.” (Matthew 26:14) After his betrayal, when he saw what happened, he was overcome with guilt. “Judas saw that they had decided to kill Jesus. He was the one who had handed him over. When he saw what happened, he was very sorry for what he had done. So he took the 30 silver coins back to the priests and the older leaders. Judas said, ‘I sinned. I handed over to you an innocent man to be killed.’ The Jewish leaders answered, ‘We don’t care! That’s a problem for you, not us.’ So Judas threw the money into the Temple. Then he went out from there and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3) If he would have waited a few more hours, there was another that would have hung for him. I believe that if Judas were still alive, Jesus would have gone to him first to tell him that He still loved him and that he was forgiven. Sadly, he was so overcome with guilt and self-hatred that he was not there to receive forgiveness.
Beloved, if there is something you’ve been carrying that is causing you to be consumed with guilt or regret, let it go, in Jesus’ name! At the cross, Jesus not only carried our sickness and diseases, but he also bore our shame, guilt, and regret. If you’ve wronged a loved one and the relationship is broken, the Lord can completely restore! If you’ve hurt others in your past, know that you are loved and completely forgiven! I understand it’s not easy. It has taken time for me to get to this place, but by the Grace of God, I’ve come a long way! Even when you decide to forgive yourself, Satan will try to come to you with negative thoughts, but rebuke him and focus on Jesus’ finished work at the cross. Every time you feel guilty, just repeat, I AM FORGIVEN! Remember that you are the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and that you are deeply loved, richly blessed, and highly favored. Amen!
Jesus loves you,