I Hope He's There...
Brennan Manning said "Notoriously missing from Evangelical Faith is self acceptance.” I agree. And I have found that the path to self acceptance is self forgiveness.
The last few years I have been on a journey learning to fully embrace and walk daily in God's grace and love. During this process I have realized how important it is to extend that same grace and love to myself as well--in ALL areas of my life.
The Bible says we are called to 'love others as we love ourselves'. So many of us have the 'love others' down, but the forgotten part of that scripture is to 'love ourselves'. I am not suggesting that we become a group of narcissists running around hopped up on self-centeredness. That is not love. That is LA. (JUST KIDDING!) I grew up in LA and some of my favorite people on the planet live there. But come on, that was funny and in fairness to LA there are narcissists in every town, LA is just the capital!
Loving myself was such a foreign concept for many years. After much reflection, blood, sweet and tears I realized it was because I didn't forgive myself. I believe the root of love is acceptance, forgiveness and grace.
There is nothing more powerful than forgiveness and love. It can change the whole course of a life. It changed the course of mine...
Along those same lines I believe one of the most tragic events in the Bible occurred when Judas hung himself after he betrayed Jesus. After reading a part of Matthew last night I believe he couldn't forgive himself for betraying Jesus and that tragedy led to his death.
Call me crazy or wishful, but I am hoping we will be seeing Judas in Heaven. Yes, Judas Iscariot the traitor who turned our Savior over to the officials. I am not denying that Judas has Jesus’ blood on his hands. But don’t we all in one way or another? I do. My whole Christian life I have just assumed Judas would be in hell burning for his choice to betray our Savior. Then last night I read Matthew 27:3, "When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders."
"Seized with remorse”—ever been seized with remorse? I have. It makes sense that Judas went back to the men who paid him to betray Jesus to return the money. I believe he wanted to rewind time, to pretend like it all never happened. But it did happen and what’s done is done. He had already turned Jesus over to the officials, there was no rewinding that betrayal. Ever wanted to rewind a betrayal? Ever wanted to rewind and go back and fix something you have done? I believe that was what Judas was trying to do. He wanted to rewind time. He wanted to fix what he had done.
Psalm 32:3 says “when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.”—I am certain Judas felt the weight of his sin and choices and it crushed him.
Matthew 27:4-5 “I have sinned, he said for I have betrayed innocent blood...So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”
Such a tragic ending. What an amazing restoration story that could have been. Judas leaving the temple and running to where Jesus was being held and demanding to see Him. Throwing himself at His feet and asking for forgiveness. If I wrote the Bible that would have been my ending to that story. But there has to be a reason it happened the way it did. Everything in the Bible has a purpose. To encourage us and bring us hope. Or to give us a warning and directions for our life. Nothing is there by mistake.
There is so much packed in to these verses but my point is this—Judas was remorseful and He admitted his sin. Yes, next he went and hung himself. I am not saying he did the right thing but can you imagine the weight of remorse He felt? I can’t blame him. I am so sad for him.
I am sad because I know that Jesus would have forgiven him. And slowly Judas would have forgiven himself too.
Jesus forgives us in an instant but for some reason we are much slower to forgive ourselves. I don’t believe Judas killing himself had anything to do with being unforgiven by God. I believe it had everything to do with not forgiving himself. Not forgiving ourselves can have deadly consequences on our souls and lives. I wish the story ended differently. I wish we could see Jesus embrace Judas and Judas slowly begin to embrace himself, but that’s not how it ends.
The good news is we have a say in how our story ends! The Bible is clear, Jesus forgives!!! We admit our sin and forgiveness comes. When we repent we are forgiven and free. I am realizing though, that being free and walking in freedom are two totally different things. Jesus frees us in an instant. But learning to walk in freedom can take years. The question is not will Jesus forgive me? He answered that question so clearly with His sacrifice.
1 John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
He died for our sins so we don’t have to. I guess the question is can we forgive ourselves? I have found in my own life forgiving myself for my sins has been so much harder than receiving God's forgiveness. I think the times that we don’t "feel" forgiven are due to the fact that we haven't truly forgiven ourselves. We can’t let go of our sin so we live feeling unforgiven. But if He forgives me, shouldn't I forgive myself?
I believe the 2 most important things we can do is embrace and receive God's love and forgiveness...and learn to love and forgive ourselves. I want to see every day as a chance to walk in the freedom and love that Jesus bought for me with His precious life.
We can't erase any aspect of our past. Trust me I tried!! However we can, by God's grace, write a better ending to our life story by learning to embrace and walk in forgiveness and grace…one joyful and free day at a time.
Will you walk that ‘path’ with me?
Daily Grace to you.
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