Debtor's Prison

Life is an adventure in forgiveness. 
(Norman Cousins)

I came across this little quote the other day and it made me think about all the ways forgiveness is both needed and given. If you are like me, your first thoughts gravitate toward 'who' we need to forgive and 'what' the offense was that required the forgiveness in the first place. We usually think about others when we begin to think upon forgiveness - someone that has done or said something that has hurt us, bringing harm to us either intentionally or completely without any ill will at all. I wonder...just how many times do we think of the 'who' in this business of forgiveness as ourselves? You know what...you and I need to forgive ourselves, too. We hold ourselves in a position of 'debtors' way too often - unwilling to forgive our own trespasses! All that does is keep us on the hamster wheel of trying to find a way to get out of 'debtor's prison'!

Who can see his own mistakes? Forgive my sins that I do not see. And keep Your servant from sinning by going my own way. Do not let these sins rule over me. Then I will be without blame. And I will not be found guilty of big sins. Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing in Your eyes, O Lord, my Rock and the One Who saves me. (Psalm 19:12-14)

Our own mistakes can sometimes be hard for us to see, but trust me on this one - God will expose them to us if we cannot see them ourselves! When he does, the first thing we should do is call upon him for mercy and in so doing, find not only forgiveness from him, but embrace forgiveness in ourselves. Instead, we might settle into that cursory prayer of 'God, forgive me', but then walk around with a load of guilt upon our shoulders that eventually finds its way into our hearts and minds. That load of guilt isn't supposed to be there. All guilt is supposed to exist for in our lives is to help us head back to the foot of the cross for the absolute and complete forgiveness we will receive there!

Forgiving ourselves is much harder than forgiving someone else, isn't it? I think we can release others from debtor's prison much quicker than we will allow ourselves to be freed - even when the door has been left wide open for us! Christ paid the debt already - our guilt isn't going to 'repay' the debt because it has already been paid. Our minds have a way of repeatedly accusing us of our failures and faults. Amazingly, we find ourselves rehearsing the 'debt' over and over again - almost as though we could somehow find a way to repay it. News Flash: YOU cannot repay your debt for sin - only CHRIST did that!

So, how do we forgive ourselves? It begins by asking God to forgive us for being so presumptuous so as to think we could not be forgiven for our sins. You read that correctly - we are being very presumptuous to think our sin is something that shouldn't or couldn't be forgiven - something we have to hold onto and somehow find a way to 'repay'. We assume a debt we cannot repay, but it has already been fully paid - what is more ridiculous than that? God doesn't want us bound up in our sin's guilt - so he made a way for us to be free of that guilt, but we have to let it go if we are to be free of it. We have to leave that 'cell' in the debtor's prison through the open door he has provided. Just sayin!

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