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Sunday, March 08, 2009

I Want You To Grow Spiritually 14: Forgive Yourself

Forgive yourself and provide yourself a lot of grace.

I see so many people who are mulling over their previous mistakes. Mistakes. Some of them are sins. Some of them are just shortcomings or simple failures. But they live with great regret and anger towards themselves. It's time to let go.

Jesus said, it's mandatory to forgive. Mostly we think about it in terms of forgiving other people who have wronged us. Rarely do we think about how crucial it is to forgive ourselves. Many of us will remember 10 of our screw-ups to 1 of our more noble moments. And especially if we are evangelicals (particularly of the Calvinist persuasion), we have the theology of total depravity and these scriptures drilled into our heads:
Romans 3.10 "There is no one righteous not even one."

Isaiah 64.6 "... our righteous acts are like filthy rags; ..."
Yes, the scriptures are true. You are a sinner whose righteousness comes only from God. Yet the scriptures are also clear,
1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
I heard a story even today of a man who is an artist who feels that his art ministry will never blossom to anything great because a secret sin he committed years ago. He had confessed his sin and received forgiveness but 20 years later is still holding it against himself. He's still thinking about it. It's still a pestering thought deep in his soul that affects his self-view, self worth and view of the destiny of his life. He's living a lie because God is not holding that against him any longer.

There are a number of us who live with a hidden guilt, a deep shame, a desperate secret. We think, "If you only knew the truth you would reject me and find me hideous, deplorable and unforgivable." That may be true about the people you know, but it isn't about the God of the Bible. The Bible describes God as,
"The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin."
It says,
"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
If you have confessed your sins to God, you have not committed some sin that is unforgivable. You are forgiven. It is now time to forgive yourself and not hold it against yourself any more. Receive God's forgiveness and set yourself free.

Close your eyes and quiet yourself before God right now. Ask Him to show you where you need to forgive yourself. Say the words right out loud to yourself, "I forgive me. I am forgiven."

This is part 15 in a 20 part series on spiritual growth. If you feel like you are not growing deeper in your faith or relationship to God, if you are not loving and serving others more, if you have a sense of 'stuckness' in your spiritual journey, and you really want to grow —— the answer might not be to try harder. All too often I have heard the same solutions offered over and over — 'All you have to do is have daily devotions, pray more, read more of the Bible, be in worship every week and get more involved in the church.' In other words try harder.

Sometimes that doesn't work and I'm going to offer some suggestions that might help you move forward.

Previous Installments:
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 1: Give Up Daily Devotions
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 2: See A Counselor
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 3: Spiritual Direction
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 4: Get A New Church
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 5: Go On Retreat
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 6: Fight A Spiritual Battle & Win
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 7: Take A Seminary or College Class
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 8: Take Communion Weekly
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 10: Observe The Daily Office & Church Year
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 11: Get Tough on Sin
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 12: Start Journaling
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 13: Time For Fasting

Note: Part 9 isn't published yet. I'll get to it eventually.

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