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Self Forgiveness?

Long before I became the Director of The Way, but most certainly since I have become the director, I have often heard the bemoaning cry of “I know God and others have forgiven me, but I cannot forgive myself.”  Forgive myself is the long standing pursuit of secular psychology to keep patients engaged in protracted counseling sessions.  It’s the stuff our self-centered culture has glommed onto as a vain sort of humility.  It sounds noble and good, but where from a Christian point of view does it come?

The Bible and its author, God, do not hold to this viewpoint.  Let me explain.

If you remember the parable of The Prodigal Son, the younger son demands and receives his share of his father’s estate prematurely, he then in his immaturity squanders it all and finds himself destitute in a far off land.  There Jesus says, “He comes to his senses” and realizes his father’s lowest servants are at least now starving to death, so he plans his return.  In preparation, he creates and memorizes his script.  It goes something like this, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. . .”

Notice the offended parties from his point of view.  They are two; God, the creator and orderer of the heavens and Dad.   There is no other offended, certainly not the prodigal.  Unless the post parable events included a psychologist who convinces the prodigal of his need to long term therapy to forgive himself.

Biblically only the offended can offer forgiveness, and in this case that is only God and Dad.

The problem is not self-forgiveness, but rather self-absorbed pride in not being willing to accept the grace of God and others.  To accept forgiveness takes the humility to openly admit my wrong and the faith to accept grace.  God’s word promises it and others offer it, but do we have the humility and faith to accept it.

So humble yourself and accept the grace of God and others.  Live free.

Tom Reynolds