There are some things in life that will never grow old. Take sleep for example: you will never be “tired” of closing your eyes and resting. Breathing is another example – the basics that keep us alive will never grow old. The same can be said about our faith as well. The very essence of what we believe relies on certain elements that will never become stale – and if they do we are in danger of our faith dying.
One such essential element to faith in Jesus Christ is the concept of forgiveness. Whether you chose to follow Him yesterday or 20 years ago, you can never grow tired with forgiveness. Everyone messes up – fault is not something you simply throw away when you become a Christian. There is no perfect Christian (and if you think you know one, there is probably a whole lot they are hiding). We will always need to be forgiven for something. We will always have to rely on God’s forgiveness for things we did in our past. We will always be required to forgive others when they mess up, too.
But there are a few aspects to forgiveness that I have struggled with in my life.
Forgiveness means I was wrong
You are never forgiven for doing good. The concept of forgiveness is that you are released from the consequence of a bad action. For a long time, I didn’t believe I needed to be forgiven because I didn’t think I had done anything wrong. Self-righteousness is a toxic mindset to live with. If you always believe you are in the right, then I would encourage you to have a reality check. Call your own intervention and just ask some of your family and friends to point out you faults.
You probably do know the areas you have messed up in, but being honest about it to yourself can result in depression if you don’t have a revelation that you are already fundamentally forgiven for everything you have done wrong. Good intention does not mean that you are always right. Just because you mean well doesn’t mean you are a saint.
Forgiveness means I must change
If you have ever found yourself caught in destructive behaviour – whether it is an addiction, a problem with your anger or unhealthy relationships – you’re probably already aware that you are at fault.
A few years ago I was extremely affected by the wrong choices I made almost daily. It resulted in me withdrawing from the world and experiencing intense anxiety and depression. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but did not want to accept forgiveness because it meant that I had to change.
Self-pity and guilt is like a pool of mud. It is comfortable until you have to get out of it. Receiving forgiveness actually requires a whole lot of brave faith. You not only need to confess and open your life up to God (and others), but you need to have such a strong conviction that you don’t have to live with the weight of your actions that you actually change how you live. That takes guts. It took me years to get out of that pool of mud. It was really hard. But so worth it.
Forgiveness means I need to forgive myself
It is one thing to be forgiven by others, but actually having grace for yourself is a completely different story. When you know you are wrong, your natural response is to make sure you don’t do it again. So you live in constant condemnation, trying to make sure you feel so much guilt that you vow never to mess up again. As much as this seems justifiable at the time, in hindsight I can see in my own life that that was actually pride.
When you have been forgiven by the One who has created you, who are you to not forgive yourself? It is like your cell has been unlocked, but you have taken the key, locked yourself in again and refuse to let go of the key. I have been there. I have tried to “teach myself a lesson” and condemn myself no matter how much freedom I had already received from God.
I don’t know if you can identify with these struggles. I don’t know about you, but I am very aware that I don’t deserve a good life. But the fact is, we never will. God has forgiven us so that we can live in freedom and absolute grace.
Living a life of faith means receiving a whole lot of things that you could never earn. If you are willing to face the fact that you are wrong; if you’re brave enough to actually change; and if you are ready to give yourself a break, then find forgiveness. Click on the link below to find out more.