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Can We Forgive Ourselves?

Forgiveness  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:05
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What is forgiveness and how does it affect our lives?
Forgiveness, according to the Bible, is generally understood as God's promise not to count our sins against us.
Biblical forgiveness requires us to repent of our past by confessing and turning away from our old life of sin and growing in faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.
If we have repented, if we have turned away from our old life, if we have a relationship with Christ, if we don’t commit sin anymore … Why do we hold onto our past sins?
Luke 19:1–3 HCSB
He entered Jericho and was passing through. There was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because of the crowd, since he was a short man.
We see Zacchaeus being introduce as a what? Tax Collector. And what did the crowd think of Tax Collectors? This was the worst sin and judgement that any person could receive. In today’s world it would be like a murderer, drug dealer, violent husband, a predator, etc.
What else does it state about Zacchaeus? He was rich … a wealthy man because he took and extorted money from others.
Tax collectors were hated in biblical times and were regarded as sinners. They were Jews who worked for the Romans, so that made them traitors to their own people. People resented paying taxes to the foreigners who ruled over them.
Tax collectors were not paid actual wages by the Romans. They were expected to take extra money from their own people (i.e. family, friends, business relationships) and keep some for themselves. Many tax collectors were dishonest and abused this system by taking far too much.
So we can see how the local Jews hated the Tax Collectors. And Zacchaeus was a Chief Tax Collector. One of many years of experience.
In V3 & V4 we see that Zacchaeus had a drive to seek Jesus. Maybe this was out of pure curiosity or out of a need from the depths of his soul
In Luke 18:10-13 we see where a Tax Collector came to terms with what he is and seeks God for mercy
Luke 18:10–13 NRSV
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
In V3 & V4 we see that Zacchaeus had a drive to seek Jesus in a physical form, for he was not going to be turned away - running his way through the crowd and climbing a tree
Why did Zacchaeus have a desire so deeply to seek Jesus? Was it an underling desire for forgiveness?
Luke 19:5 (NRSV)
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”
Why was there an urgency? Jesus used the word “Hurry” and “Must”
For the word “must” in Greek (dei) is a verb, (it is necessary, to have to, it often implies inevitability, and as “in the plan of God”)
In V6 & V7 we see Zacchaeus reaction to Jesus’ request - coming out of the tree and welcoming Jesus “joyfully”
In these verses, we wonder what the crowd was thinking? - this man (Jesus Christ) whom all the countryside had been talking about, whom they wanted to see, the one who had healed others, fed others, had taught many things about Heaven - He (Jesus Christ) was speaking to a lowly sinner. This man (Zacchaeus) that was rejected more than a leper, despised greater than a Gentile, and was hated more than the Romans - yet Jesus spoke to him directly and was going to his home
What does this mean for Zacchaeus and us? Jesus Christ urgently seeks out the sinner, that one lost sheep exactly where they are.
Luke 15:4–6 NRSV
“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
In later texts, what did Jesus say about forgiveness?
“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” It is not weakness to avoid revenge but strength
“If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” for it is best to think and act in responsible ways
“If someone forces you to go with him one mile, go with him two”. Act in a cheerful way and try to serve beyond what anyone expects of you
“Give to the one who asks you” we should be generous rather than being selfish with our possessions
For all of this are physical acts of forgiveness towards others, yet does it really touch our heart?
Once again what is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness, according to the Bible, is generally understood as God's promise not to count our sins against us.
Biblical forgiveness requires us to repent of our past by confessing and turning away from our old life of sin and growing in faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. So why do we still count our sins against ourselves?
What do we see Zacchaeus do when Jesus came to his home?
Luke 19:8 HCSB
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord! And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much!”
What was Zacchaeus doing? He was making amends for the wrongs that he has done, for he was seeking forgiveness from Jesus Christ (GOD) and from the people
Luke 18:22 HCSB
When Jesus heard this, He told him, “You still lack one thing: Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
For forgiveness is 3 fold: forgiveness from the people, forgiveness from GOD, and forgiveness from ourselves
So were was Zacchaeus on his journey towards forgiveness? He recognized the authority of Jesus & the wrong that he has done against his people
Zacchaeus had repented of his sins, turned away, and was making his past sins right by replacing what he had taken
For what was Jesus’ responds in V9?
Luke 19:9–10 HCSB
“Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told him, “because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
So what does this mean to Zacchaeus and us? For a Jew, being a “Son of ...” is an honorable situation, being called a “Son of Abraham” was stating that Zacchaeus was from the original father of the Jewish people, a friend of GOD. Zacchaeus was elevated from a lowly sinner to the level of Abraham, for his house received salvation
We too can have that same status, because we believe in Jesus Christ
John 1:12 (HCSB)
But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,
So by the story of Zacchaeus, did he ever look back and repeat his actions of sin (backslide)? Did he ever rethink/revisit his sins? We don’t know.
So did he ever forgive himself? When we reach a level of Repentance we feel the pain that we caused others - the hurt & destruction towards them, it may have be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
Even though GOD does not remember our sin after we repent of them, as stated in Psalm 103:11-12, yet we still revisit & relive the guilty … why? If it is written that GOD does not remember them why should we?
Psalm 103:11–12 HCSB
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
So why do we continue to count our sins against ourselves while creating a new sin … … the sin of not forgiving … ourselves? For we are not GOD, we do not have the power to judge ourselves nor others
Most of us have held grudges against others for different reasons - being their race, their gender, maybe over jobs, their personal actions, statements that were made, their crimes against society, etc. Yet, over time and talking with those people, we have forgiven them and forgotten about their sins. Yet we don’t forgive ourselves.
For GOD does not wish for us to suffer yet we choose to continue to suffer … why?
Why can we not extend grace to ourselves? We do for others. It is because of society? Judgement? Pride? Unsure of our own salvation, our faith, or belief?
Like King David, I too have done things that were hard to forgive - society has shown judgement upon me and I dealt with what I had done (adultery, murder, theft, lying) . However, it is very hard for me to forgive myself because I see the pain and suffering on people’s faces, I may not have harmed them, yet I remember what I have done - the emotion of guilty & shame that does not end
So are we like Zacchaeus, a lowly tax collector, hated by our own people, outcast like a leper, with a burning in our hearts for something (forgiveness & peace)? Or are we like Zacchaeus, a son of … The Most High?
For me, I choose to continue to forgive myself daily and on some days it is harder then others
What are you holding on to?
the reason(s) you can’t/don’t forgive yourself?
Is not forgiving yourself keeping you from your blessings from heaven? Let it go and seek the Holy Spirit for guidance & love
What is forgiveness and how does it affect our lives?
A Lack of forgiveness ... self-forgiveness ... robs us of joy, peace, GOD’s blessings, direction, guidance, purpose, and a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ
Why are you still holding onto un-forgiveness? For you are sons & daughters of the The Most High
(closing prayer)
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