If you ever beat yourself up with condemnation, join the club.
Sometimes I find it much easier to forgive others their trespasses than to forgive my own. I carry a big stick, one the likes that Negan has never seen. (If you missed the reference, that’s okay.) The only difference is that I pummel myself with it far more than anyone else. Maybe that’s a good thing, but any kind of pummeling is far from the call of Christ.
Revelation 12:10 pictures the great dragon as satan—Hebrew for “the accuser”—who accuses us before God day and night. My problem is that I don’t need any help; I accuse myself plenty before God.
Before you think I’m just down on myself, I’m not. I’m just aware of the many times I have been down on myself, and I want to change. Maybe you do, too. Here are few thoughts to help guide us:
First, the way God sees us is far more important than the way we see ourselves. In fact, we need to start changing the way we see ourselves from down below to up above. The Bible teaches that God delights in us (Psalm 41:11). He longs to be gracious to us (Isaiah 30:18). He desires that we turn our hearts from evil and come to Him (2 Peter 3:9). Too often, our eyesight doesn’t capture the vision of God. We see ourselves through our sin; He sees us through the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Second, God’s memory is far more important than our memory. If God “remembers [our] sins no more” (Isaiah 43:23), why do we? Why do we keep playing the same clip over and over and over in our minds? This is where we need to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Obedience to Christ includes letting go of the past and moving forward in grace. Whether that applies to your own sin or the sin of someone else, “do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18), and move on with your life.
Third, how God forgives us is far more important than how we forgive ourselves. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God is the Judge, not us. If He chooses to forgive us (which He does), why can’t we forgive ourselves? Are we greater than God that we should hold onto the past with a grip mightier than that of God’s grace? Do we not trust God’s forgiveness or His power to cast our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12)?
The next time you think of yourself as “such a worm as I,” remember that in Christ you are a son or daughter of the King. When your memory exceeds the memory of God, let it go and move on. And when you beat yourself up over past mistakes, put your club down and receive God’s forgiveness. Following Jesus requires us to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15) and that includes forgiving ourselves.