“…to open their eyes, that they may turn from the darkness
to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may
receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who
are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:18)
Why is it so difficult for us to forgive ourselves? We hang onto our guilt, embrace it, convinced that if we punish ourselves long enough it will go away. A perfectionist by nature, I tend to beat myself with the ferocity of a prize fighter for mistakes and transgressions. I wallow in my guilt as if that would erase the misdeed. Yet guilt never heals; it only destroys. I am still struggling to learn that lesson. Jesus offers those who believe a better way, the forgiveness of God.
In Ephesians 1:7, we learn that, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Jesus bore the burden of our sins by dying on the cross. He paid the price for us. It is a gift we can never be worthy of and never earn.
When God’s children come to Him with a repentant heart, He wipes away our transgressions. The sin is no more. There are only two requirements: to accept and to believe. To continue to chastise ourselves after He has given His forgiveness is like returning a birthday gift to a best friend. It demonstrates our lack of faith, our inability to believe He can truly heal us.
As a nine-year-old child, I trusted God to take away my sins. After confessing, repenting, and reconciling, a sense of peace settled over me. My body felt light, eased of its burden. With a smile on my face, I skipped down the sidewalk, rejoicing.
Sometimes, people feel that their sin is too grievous for forgiveness and reject the outstretched arms of the Heavenly Father. He remains steadfast, always willing to welcome the lost back to the fold. It is never too late to accept His love and grace.
Even after accepting the Lord’s forgiveness, believers find themselves slipping into old patterns. At times, my mind seems entrenched in past transgressions. I try to halt these episodes early by saying a quick prayer. It doesn’t have to be fancy or memorized. Something simple like, “Help me Lord”, allows me to find peace. Christ assures us in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
In order to freely embrace the sacrifice Christ made on the cross, it is important to reflect on ridding our baggage. How can we change our attitudes so that we can reconcile with the Lord and accept His forgiveness? Are there sinful habits we are comfortable with and are unwilling to give up? What can we do to free ourselves from our burdens so that we can enrich our celebration of the risen Jesus Christ? Be evaluating our lives, we have an opportunity to make changes and grow closer to God.
With prayer and reflection, I have traveled in my faith journey. By talking with God, I have strengthened my relationship with Him. I have come to accept that I will never be perfect, that I am a sinner. In that journey, I have found peace. Is it always easy? No. Do I still struggle? You bet!
Fellowship with other Christians, has given me support and helped me grow stronger in my faith. In sharing with and caring about others, I have become less focused on myself. I look to the future with optimism instead of chaining myself to past sins.
Let us pray that we will have the courage to admit our faults and lay our burdens before the Lord. That God will grant us the strength to rise up and embrace our faith. And that, we will open our hearts to the peace only God can provide.