I know that God forgives and forgets our sins, but how do we? If our sins or decisions in life have caused others pain, how do we forgive ourselves and move on? If those people do not want to even hear an apology, what are we to do? I also worry that I have hurt their spiritual walk when I think of the verse that says we need to forgive or God won’t forgive us.
I would never want to put anyone in that position but fear my past decision has done just that. I feel this is keeping me frozen in guilt and hindering my witnessing about God’s love and saving grace to others. I know time is and we are nearing the Rapture so I’m trying to get the word out, but feel I’m in a battle with my past. Any suggestions?
Self-forgiveness is one of the hardest things, especially for those who are truly growing in the Lord and take their faith seriously. No relationship can evolve without forgiveness and repentance. Once we are saved and understand the enormous struggles people have in this corrupt world, our compassion should grow—along with the desire to please the Lord and love others. It certainly sounds like you have reached that point.
The first thing we can do is try our best to make right the wrongs we have inflicted upon others. If you hurt someone in any way, go to them and apologize and then make restitution. Once you do that you will find it much easier to forgive yourself. If the person you wronged does not want to hear an apology from you, you can write your apology and mail it to them. Making an apology is important whether it is in person or by mail.
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
By attempting to communicate by whichever method seems most appropriate, you will have said what needs to be said and you can move forward. Pray that the Lord will touch the person you are trying to make amends to, and that He will give that person a sense of acceptance.
If the person ignores you or refuses to accept your apology, then you must rest assured that you have done your part. Everyone makes mistakes and it is those who make a point of trying to make reparations, they are doing the right thing and honoring the Lord.
Jesus commanded us to forgive others in the Disciple’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12). Once we do that there is nothing more we can do. We cannot change a person’s heart, attitude or make anyone love us. In our walk with the Lord we will meet many people.
Some are sincere and devoted believers and some are not. Those who carry anger and malice in their hearts toward others are either spiritual infants or unsaved. How a person responds and treats another says a lot about the condition of their relationship with the Lord. As I have said many times, we cannot change people but God can.
On this earth there is not one person alive who at some time has not offended another. As far as hindering a person’s spiritual walk, once we have apologized and made our amends we have done our part. We are not responsible for how a person responds or acts.
Keep in mind that the devil and his demonic armies are experts are making us feel guilty and want to keep us feeling emotionally paralyzed so we don’t share the gospel and become useless to God.
Don’t let this happen to you. As long as you have reached out, repented and done everything you can to address any harm you may have brought upon others, then you are not guilty. It would be beneficial for you to focus on some Scriptures dealing especially with forgiveness.
This guilt you are feeling is essentially crossing over into the area of fear. Fear can totally immobilize us.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
We need not fear when God is our helper:
So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
It sounds like you know in your head that the Lord has forgiven you—so please take that to heart as well, so you can fully receive His blessings. Also, moving forward has to do with trust. Do we really trust the Lord to work in a situation after we have done everything humanly possible?
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The Lord is always faithful. His mercies are new every morning:
“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24).
We are to always place our hope and trust in the Lord. When we mediate day and night on His Word we will no longer be pulled to and fro. In Him we are new creations and by His stripes we are healed. What a marvelous and awesome God we serve. In Christ we are made free, we are no longer enslaved to the past or the ways of the world. The Lord tells us to let go of the past:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do,forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you” (Philippians 3:12-15).
Regardless of the circumstances (the details will vary and differ), our best and only solution is to take the Word of God and use it as He has instructed us to, and day by day in God’s strength—through His grace—He will heal us from whatever ails us.
My struggling friend, you are not alone. At times we all struggle with various issues and the answer is always the same. We must wholeheartedly trust the Lord that He will intervene and take care of every last detail. Our job is to stay faithful to Him and grow in His Word.
Let the Holy Spirit take over and give you the peace you need. The peace of God comes through praying in faith and studying His Holy Word. Praise Him and thank Him in all things. The more you praise and worship the Lord the more at peace you will be.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Keep your mind focused on Him and not on the present or past circumstances, and you will be strengthened:
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. “Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 25:3-4).
Please take great comfort knowing that Christ died for the very reason you are grieving, for your self-guilt and remorse, for all the sin in our lives—that is why our great Lord and Savior died on the cross in our place. He does not wish for us to go through life bogged down by our past mistakes.
I will leave you with some Scriptures to encourage you, verses relating to forgiveness. Please study them: Isaiah 1:18, 44:22-23; Psalm 32:1-2, 32:5, 103:12; Colossians 1:13-14; Ephesians 1:7-8.
Decide today to let go of the past, you cannot change any of it. Begin today to give your all to the Lord and He will set you free from the chains that are keeping you from living fully in His joy.
God bless you and strengthen you. Keep reaching out to Him. His comfort, His merciful and forgiving heart is always near. Don’t let the enemies of God steal your joy.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
In God’s love, Esther
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).