Today I will remember that my failure to forgive myself is a prideful choice to not receive your grace.
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone. The new is here! —2 Corinthians 5:17
What can we learn about forgiveness from one of the greatest saints in Christian history, who began as one of its greatest persecutors—Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the apostle? We read in Acts 8:3 that, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” It was Saul’s intent to destroy the church—until, as he traveled the road to Damascus to continue his murderous work there, he met the living Christ.
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” was Jesus’ very direct question (Acts 9:4), and that question made no sense. As far as Saul was concerned, he wasn’t persecuting God but was defending true Judaism. Imagine the shock as Saul recognized his actions for what they were: his misguided killings, the ripple effect on devastated families, and his affront to the Lord of the universe. Imagine the struggle to receive God’s forgiveness and to forgive himself . . . .
Paul did receive God’s forgiveness and went on to preach powerful sermons—teachings we still read today—about the gift of forgiveness available to all because of Jesus’ death on the cross. This forgiveness is a powerful weapon that overcomes the evil in this world and brings healing to our wounded souls, but we must reach out and accept it.
To say that we don’t deserve forgiveness is to make our sin more powerful than the blood of Christ. And since God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves.
When we refuse, we have made the court of our opinion more powerful than the court of our holy and just God. It must seriously wound the heart of our Father when we will not accept the gift he has given us, the gift of forgiveness that cost him so dearly. After all, our sin was covered by the lifeblood of the Lamb.
Prayer for forgiveness:
God of the impossible, you got the attention of murderous Saul, changed his heart, and made him a powerful voice for your gospel truth. You also got my attention, and I thank you for the grace of being able to acknowledge Jesus as my Savior and Lord and you as my Father. I ask for the grace to live in the freedom of your forgiveness and love.
What impact does the account of Paul’s conversion have on your understanding of forgiveness? Explain why our inability to forgive ourselves reflects an attitude of pride.
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