Forgiveness often requires us to make a choice to love the unlovable. Always a difficult task. But what happens when the unlovable one we must forgive is staring back at us when we look in the mirror?
The challenge of forgiving yourself can seem more impossible than forgiving someone else and even more difficult than believing that God could forgive you for mistakes you’ve made. The struggle to forgive ourselves seems to be Satan’s last line of defense in his efforts to keep us held in the chains of unforgiveness. I may have found my way to forgive someone who wronged me. I may have found humility enough to ask for forgiveness from someone I have hurt. And I may have even opened up my heart to the life-changing knowledge that grace is—just as Scripture says—“the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).
But as long as my eyes are focused on my failures and I remain disgusted by my past, forgiving myself will be out of the question, and so will the possibility of living life to the fullest. Guilt is a gravity-like force, powerful enough to push a soul down to the point where the gift of grace seems utterly unbelievable: “You couldn’t understand. You couldn’t possibly understand.” These words were spoken by a soul who could not get past his past. Guilt can be so consuming that the remorse you feel for your mistakes makes it impossible for you to rejoice overall that God has offered to you in the cross and through Christ’s sacrifice for your sins.
Remember the disciple Peter and how Jesus restored his life, forgiving him for his denial . . . . Judas betrayed Jesus as well, handing Jesus over to be crucified in exchange for thirty silver coins. . . . Both disciples turned their backs on Jesus. Both were guilty of betrayal. Both were riddled with shame and remorse. But the two disciples allowed their guilt to drive them in vastly different directions.
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You just don’t understand. Well, Jesus understood Peter. He understood Judas. And He understands you. You may see yourself as unlovable, but God doesn’t. Believe that what His Word says is true: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV).
No matter how unlovable you feel, you are loved. Don’t ask God to help you forget your past. Ask Him to help you remember the past in a new way and embrace the freedom of “no condemnation.” Do this and then be prepared for God to use you—just as He used Peter—to reach an entire world of people outside your door who think they are unlovable, too.
Matthew West is a Sparrow Records recording artist and an accomplished songwriter who has penned songs for many of today’s top Christian and country artists including Rascal Flatts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Natalie Grant, Mark Schultz, and Point of Grace. He has won two ASCAP Song of the Year awards and been a columnist for CCM. See Matthew at Women of Faith From Survival to Revival! Find a city near you.
From Forgiveness ©2013 Matthew West (Thomas Nelson) Used with permission.
Giveaway: Autographed Copies of Matthew West’s Book Forgiveness
We caught up with Matthew at a recent Women of Faith From Survival to Revival event and picked up 10 signed copies of his book to give away. Would you like one? Enter here and if we pick your name at random from all the entries received we’ll put it in the mail to you! Don’t wait: Deadline to enter is Wednesday, August 27. Enter here.