Honesty and Forgiveness

Steve Arterburn

Emotions are a funny thing. We all know what they are, but where do they come from? They seem to flow from the core of your being, from deep down inside. And if you’ve developed the pattern of denying or hiding your feelings, you’ll lose the very sense of who you really are—who God created you to be.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the prophet Jeremiah.

When you read the Old Testament book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote, you’ll see that you have nothing to fear about bringing even your most raw or maybe what you think are embarrassing emotions to God.

Jeremiah was intensely honest in sharing his broken heart with God.  But what follows his grief?  When Jeremiah finished his grieving, he turned to God to seek forgiveness.  The book ends with a question of remorse: ‘Are you angry with us still?’ the prophet asks.  Have you ever asked that question?  Behind this question is Jeremiah’s humility, coupled with his hope that God will start the process toward reconciliation and forgiveness.  Jeremiah knew God’s heart, so he knew that God would forgive.  If you truly repent of your sin, you can be sure that God will forgive you too—no matter how great your sins and failures.  You need to come humbly before him and place your life in his strong, gentle hands.

Forgiving Ourselves

Steve Arterburn

For most of the wrongs you’ve done, you’re probably grateful and eager to accept God’s forgiveness. But sometimes we’re so shocked or ashamed or heartbroken over what we’ve done that we find it hard to believe that God could really forgive us. Yet God does forgive and he desires to restore you. He wants to redirect the course of your life for his service. But this can’t begin until you receive God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself.

Peter had once sworn his love for Jesus. He pledged even to die with Jesus if necessary. Yet that same night after Jesus was arrested, Peter sheepishly denied that he even knew Jesus. Jesus wasn’t surprised; he had already told Peter that Peter would deny knowing him three times. Jesus was ready to forgive Peter before he even betrayed Jesus. But Peter had a hard time forgiving himself.

After Jesus rose from the dead he asked Peter three times if Peter loved him. Peter had denied him three times and so Jesus gave him the chance to reaffirm his love three times. Jesus reached out to Peter.

When you’re disheartened by the things you’ve done, it can be difficult to receive God’s forgiveness. But God reaches out to us. Once you confess your sins, you need to let go of them. Find encouragement through the story of Peter. Once he accepted forgiveness, God was able to build him up and use him for His great purposes.