“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col. 3:13”
We all experience the desire for a “clean start”. Sometimes this feeling comes from a mistake we’ve made in a relationship that hurt another person; sometimes it wasn’t a mistake but a sinful action or unintended consequence of our anger, jealously, envy, etc.; it could come from looking in the mirror of self; at the beginning of seasonal change, people feel the urge to “purge” and get rid of things or bad habits; it could be a death or an illness. Mostly, however, this occurs when a calendar year begins or a birthday cake is either celebrated or tossed in the trash. Folks are universally motivated to get a clean slate, both from ancient history to current human enlightenment.
The two hardest things to do in adult life are to forgive oneself of our sin or personal doofiness…and to forgive another adult who’s sinned against you, or was a doofus ignoramus and hurt you unwittingly. If you think about it, it’ll be hard to follow one of the two commands Jesus gave us, if we can’t forgive:
“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Lk 10:27
How can you love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself?
Forgiving yourself is the foundation of loving yourself. Rather than living with self-hatred and loathing over our sin, God expects Christians to live a forgiven life and to express that peaceful existence as we share the hope “living inside us”. God said to “Forgive as the Lord forgave you”, which means forgiveness begins with us first and extends outward. We should only hate the sin that separates us, Rom. 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Our eyes should not be fixed on the ugliness that our sin-self mirrors, but rather the motivation to be forgiven and help others seek forgiveness, or get it from us. “Fix our eyes on Jesus…” Heb 12:2. He is the image we focus our on in life. He is the best wrinkle-healing, stress relieving, spiritual food conscious choice we can put into our life.
As you search your heart to make sure you’ve forgiven yourself, you’ll inevitably discover another person you have trouble forgiving. They may remind you of a quality you don’t like about yourself, or are such a contrast to you that you have contempt for how they’ve treated you. We all have someone we have a hard time forgiving. It is our nature. The secret to doing this lies in how completely you’ve forgiven yourself for your darkest, deepest sin. Once we can relate to how much love it takes for God to forgive us, we are on the path to giving up that person’s sin as an eternal judgement against them. Their ultimate eternal forgiveness lies with God, not us. Our earthly unforgiveness will only hinder our eternal standing, not theirs. It is better to forgive now than be “forgotten “ later, Matt. 7:23.
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