Summary: The final part of this series on grace. In Part 7, we look at extending grace to ourselves.
May 5, 2019
I want to start this morning by reading a passage. It’s from Matthew 27:1-5. Jesus has been betrayed and arrested. Judas, the betrayer went to the Jewish leaders to talk about what happened. This is the story –
1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death.
2 And they bound Jesus and led Him away and delivered Him over to Pilate the governor.
3 Then when Judas, His betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,
4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”
5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. – Matthew 27:1-5
This morning I want to talk about a topic we usually don’t talk about in church. Somewhere along the way, you've done something awful. You know you’ve made a mistake, you’ve committed a sin. You feel guilty and very remorseful. You may have turned this guilt over to Jesus. But the guilt of what happened still seems to hit you. It doesn’t matter that you gave this to God, you just can’t shake the feelings and the voices in your head and heart - - reminding you that you’re guilty, it’s your fault.
The sound of condemnation resounds over and over. You hear it in your head, it creeps up at the most unsuspecting times. You obviously haven't literally hung yourself like Judas did, but you’re hung up in other ways.
I read a story about a man who accidentally killed his best friend when the two were teenagers. It was one of those unthinkable, horrible, tragic accidents. Through his tears he said how sorry he was. Through sobs, heartache and anger, the family of the other boy accepted his apology and extended the grace of forgiveness to him. He prayed for God’s forgiveness and God certainly forgave him.
After the funeral everyone behaved as if it was over. In effect, his mom and dad said - ‘It happened. You're sorry. It's been forgiven. We’ll speak of it no more.’ It sounds good. It works for some. But for this man, it was not enough.
Ultimately, he needed to forgive himself. But nobody was willing to help him.
As a result, this tragedy impacted his life in negative ways. He became a perfectionist. He tried his best not to make mistakes and when he did, he couldn’t admit he did. He drove people away from him, nobody wanted to be with him, the sad thing is - - he didn’t understand why, he was clueless. His life may have been different had he been able to forgive himself.
When we can’t or refuse to forgive ourselves, the affects can be life long. It can lead to us not being the person God created us to be.
We may find ourselves with an overall pervading sadness about ourselves. We struggle to experience real joy. It may turn into self-loathing or self-hatred. We may sabotage relationships. We may fall into self-destructive patterns which act like an escape from our pain.
We may believe we’re kind of like Judas. We’re a screw up and we don’t deserve anything good, so we always see the negative side of life - the glass is always half empty. We may believe since we’ve done something bad, we may as well continue to do what’s bad, because after all, I’m a bad person.
Yet, whatever way you try to escape, the pain always returns, doesn’t it?
I know I’ve been there. I’ve done some things I’m not proud of. I asked God to forgive me, but I never felt forgiven by God. Eventually, I came to realize that it wasn’t God that hadn’t forgiven me. It was me. I had not forgiven myself. And sometimes, the hardest one to forgive is yourself.
What about you? Is there anything you struggle to forgive in yourself? Have you committed a sin, you did something really, really bad. Or maybe that person who was in need didn’t get helped by you and something happened to them. Or you made a major mistake which caused pain. In many respects it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s the fact that you’re stuck right now.
So, what do we do in those situations?
We’ve been talking about grace . . . experiencing God’s grace, we’ve talked about it for the past 6 weeks. Last week we focused on extending God’s grace to others and what that looks like. Today is the last part of the series as we look at extending grace to ourself!