Guilt and Forgiveness.
November 19, 2017 - Prayer Warriors
Ever REALLY mess up something, something so big it seems impossible to fix? A broken heirloom? Division in a precious relationship? Irreparable damage to another person or their reputation? Most people carry some level of guilt in their hearts for actions such as these even if it was by accident. Guilt is there to remind us of the fault, the error. However, we were not meant to live daily with the weight of guilt.
Jesus invites us to “come clean” about our actions and join him; to be changed by him,
28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and ‘you will find rest for your souls.’ 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11: 28-29, TLV).
Does Jesus only refer to our worries when he points out our burdens? No, our burdens are ALL the worries, hardships and pain we experience including our guilt. Jesus invites us to exchange this weight we carry for a relationship with him. Even if we have made a commitment to Jesus in the past we must daily choose him. In our relationship with Jesus, it is like he gives us a GOR-TEX coat where our worries can slide off like rain. The only way we could keep the worries and guilt in this instance, is by hiding them underneath the coat. How often are we tempted to hide our “sins” and worries so “no one will see”?
But what of those who feel no guilt when they destroy? Those who seem impervious to the hurt they continue to inflict on those around them? Those who seem to enjoy hurting others in any way they can? Ah, that is the core of forgiveness, is it not? How to forgive those who go on hurting others and selfishly taking what they want, with no concern for the pain of another? It is an outrage that God would ask us to forgive perpetrators of pain, murders of innocence, selfish gluttons, liars! We can picture these people now: drug dealers, pedophiles, terrorists. Do you picture yourself here as well?
We are ALL guilty before the perfect GOD. You see, Jesus died on the cross for MY sins and for YOUR sins. Even every mean streak, every white lie, every selfish act when no one is looking, every time we had an opportunity to help and instead did nothing; Jesus died for each of these and more. And he did this even before we came into existence. Jesus looked through time and saw us and he still chose to love us as his own. He chose to take our punishment on himself, even when we rejected him, even when we continued to harm others, lie, steal, ignore those in need. Was that just yesterday we did one of those things? Still, Jesus invites us to him every minute of every day of every year. He sees what we are in truth, but he also sees what we could be in HIM. Amazing.
You see, forgiveness is powerful. Forgiveness transforms us from something dark and twisted to something clean and hopeful. It transforms us when we are forgiven and when we forgive others. Forgiveness makes us whole. Jesus invites us to join him: To forgive and be forgiven. He reminds us:
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive our trespasses as we forgive others. (Matthew 6: 11-12, NIV).
In other words, Jesus forgives us in the same way we forgive those who have offended us.
Today, allow yourself to be forgiven. Forgiven by Jesus, forgiven by yourself and forgiven by others. Lay down your sins, your failures, and allow Christ to cleanse you, restore you and love you! Remember, Satan loves nothing more than to bind us in our own chains. This keeps us focusing on ourselves and our failures instead of our Savior! We mock God’s forgiveness when we choose to live as prisoners of sin after Christ has given us pardon.
Once we direct our hearts to Jesus and his forgiveness, we need to extend forgiveness to all the imperfect people in your life. We especially need to forgive others when they “do not deserve it.” When we forgive them, we should continue to pray for their relationship with the Savior, as Matthew chapter 5 reminds us:
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5: 44-46, NIV)
Prayer Focus: Lord Jesus, help us examine our lives for selfish acts we may not recognize. We ask you to show us what we need to change and how to change and that we allow you to be the center of that change. Help us to forgive others and pray for them. Draw us closer to you in all things. Amen.