by Erin Bird
I couldn’t believe I had done it again. I had been watching a football game on TV one night, but when it was over, rather than turn off the flickering light in front of me and head to bed, I watched the news.
I know that’s not really a big deal, except for the fact that I still didn’t turn off the TVwhen the news finished. Instead, I began to watch the Tonight Show. Then I watched a MASH rerun. And then it got so pathetic, I watched an infomercial.
Ugh! Why didn’t I just turn off the TV and go to bed?!? And why was I doing this againhaving just made the same mistake a couple weeks prior?
This incident occurred back in probably 2005 or 2006. Even though it’s been quite a few years since this event, it is still humiliating to admitI had spent like 6 straight hours wasting my time watching shallow television programs. (I mean, come on… an infomercial?!?! What was wrong with me?)
I remember being so embarrassed by my behavior, I didn’t want to tell anyone. When LeAnn asked what time I had come to bed, I think I avoided the question or just said, “really late” hoping she wouldn’t ask for specifics.
But the bigger problem was happening inside me. I was disappointed in myself. Actually, it was worse than that. I was madat myself. I think my anger came from the fact that I had done this same thing multiple times. So this time, I held on to my anger. I kept beating myself up internally for days, saying all sorts of negative things about how pathetic I was. And in my internal self-mutilation, I refused to forgive myself. Because to forgive myself felt like saying, “Ah, it’s not a big deal” when I knew this behavior was keeping me from being the husband, father, and pastor I wanted to be.
Thankfully, by God’s grace, I have learned that self-forgiveness is needed and necessary. Why? Here is what I have learned…
To not forgive yourself means:
#1. You falsely believe you are wiser than God.
Here’s what I mean by that.
Every human born since the time of Adam & Eve has been born with a spiritual nature wrecked by sin. “For allhave sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” declares Romans 3:23. But the Perfect Holy God has forgiven you of allyour wrongdoing through the willing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. (Romans 5:6-8) Which means allof your sin, from the small little lie you told yesterday to the embarrassing things you did last year or last decade, have been removed from you and are no longer held against you. (Psalm 103:11-12)
And so if an all-wise, perfectly-just God can forgive your wrongdoing against Him, who are you to refuse to forgive yourself? Do you think God is wrong to forgive you? Or that you are somehow wiser than Him by refusing to forgive yourself for your momentary stupidity?
Please realize that by forgiving yourself, you are admitting God is wise, just, and generous with His love to forgive you. And by forgiving yourself, you are bringing yourself into alignment with God’s heart for you.
#2. You falsely believe the cross of Jesus was not enough.
Perhaps you see your Heavenly Father as being a God of love, so you know He would forgive you, but you think your sin too big and horrible to be forgiven. If that’s the case, you are acting as though the cross of Jesus isn’t enough to pay for your sin.
The Apostle Paul, before he became an apostle, evangelist, and church planter, spent his days zealously persecuting anyone who claimed Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. Paul, in his pride, had approved of murder and mistreating people. Paul’s sin was so great, he later described himself as one of the worst sinnersto have lived. And yet, Paul came to realize that the cross of Jesus was far more than enoughto cover his sin.
So don’t think you have to do anything to pay off your sin– Jesus paid it for you! And because your debt against God has been paid off, you are forgiven. So you can forgive yourself because the cross was more than enough to cover all your wrongdoing against your creator.