Sometimes the most difficult person to forgive is ourselves. As Jeremy reminded us on Sunday, based on the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus, we all carry around with us a sense of guilt, of regret and of perceived or real failure.
Just like Peter, we have done things that we regret, that we are ashamed of, that represents failure in our life.
The song “Je ne regrette rien” (“I have no regrets”) is far from our experience. Most of us have regrets, carry guilt, and are more than aware of our failures.
Sometimes we may feel like Robert de Niro’s character in the film “The Mission”. Mendoza, a slave trader, drags around a heavy bundle containing his armour and sword in penance for his past sins.
It is a heavy physical load to bear, but the real weight is the weight of regret and self-condemnation that Mendoza feels for his past misdemeanours. However, there comes a redeeming moment of freedom in the film when one of the native Indians takes a knife and cuts the chord of the heavy burden from Mendoza. The burden of guilt that he has been carrying falls away into the ravine below and Mendoza is set free.
Embracing the love of God means accepting his forgiveness. As James Bryan Smith writes:
“The basis upon which we dare forgive ourselves is the fact that God has forgiven us. God’s love, manifest in forgiving us, is the foundation upon which we can begin the process of forgiving ourselves.”
There are two things that help me in this regard.
One is to be brutally honest before God and to admit and submit everything to him. He knows everything about me and he is not shocked by my honest admissions. Admit it and submit it to God.
The second thing that brings me comfort in this regard is Jesus’ statement to Peter. Peter – you are going to mess up – but I have prayed for you…and after you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.
The Bible tells me that Jesus is still interceding for us. Sometimes I tell him how much I am struggling, and I ask him to pray for me! I know he does, and I know he is on my side – and yours too. Let the burden go.
Listen to the full Sunday message: "Forgiving ourselves," by Jeremy Martin >