(If you’ve stumbled across this post, let me explain where you are. You have landed smack in the middle of one of my favorite series ever. We started some time ago by learning that God expects us to love ourselves. Now, we’re going through the definition of love in I Corinthians 13:4-7 to help us understand how we can love ourselves in a healthy way so can love others better. Go back to that first post to read the series from the beginning and to find an index of all the posts available. Enjoy today’s post as well.)
Do Not Resent Yourself
Resentment is carrying a grudge against past wrongs. In fact, the NASB translates this part of I Corinthians 13:5 as “does not take into account a wrong suffered.” We do not have to carry the grudge against ourselves. We do not have to hold on to all the shame and guilt from our past sins.
When something bad happens to you, do you often tell yourself how much you deserve it because of all the wrong things you’ve done? Some folks even seem to sabotage themselves over and again because they are convinced they are themselves such a problem that they don’t deserve anything good. They deserve bad because of all the bad they have done. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that goes something like this.
I know I shouldn’t eat this gallon of ice cream right now. It is so unhealthy and will probably give me a heart attack one day or lead me to diabetes. Not to mention, I know it won’t really help deal with the problems I’m facing right now; it will only make them worse. But what can I expect? I’m such a screw-up. I’m probably going to get those things anyway the way I mess my life up all the time. Who do I think I’m kidding. I might as well pigout now and enjoy it while I can.
No, it isn’t always bad to eat ice cream. But notice the process here that is almost never as conscious as this paragraph. When I’m carrying a grudge against myself, I end up submarining any hope of overcoming the things for which I carry the grudge. When I cave again, I simply have one more thing to carry a grudge about and the cycle continues down and down and down.
Sadly, many of us have an inbred mechanism to make sure we stay in this cycle. If we ever begin to think something positive about ourselves like we are good at something or deserve something, then we start berating ourselves for being arrogant and self-centered. After that tongue-lashing, we are ready to go back to carrying our grudge against ourselves.
We are Not the Sum Total of Our Sins
Have we done bad things? Sure. Have we sinned? Yes. Should that bother and concern us? Absolutely. Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). They lead us to death (Romans 6:23). They will destroy us. They need to be dealt with. They need to be overcome. That is exactly why God sent Jesus. That is why God offers His grace. He wants us to overcome them. He doesn’t want us to linger in those sins, carrying out cycles that just dig us deeper and deeper and deeper.
We are not the sum total of our sins. We are people that God loved despite our sins (Romans 5:6-11). If God could love us instead of carrying a grudge against us despite our sins, why can’t we? According to Psalm 103:8-14, the Lord is merciful and gracious. “He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.” That is, He won’t carry the grudge. He doesn’t maintain resentment. Instead, because His love is “as high as the heavens are above the earth” He removes our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west.” “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
If God, through His love, is willing to view us separately from our sins, removing them from us, why can’t we?
Certainly, we need to remember our sins in order to learn from them, repenting and turning to God’s way. We need to remember our sins in order to see our constant and continued need for Jesus and salvation through Him. But we do not have to carry the baggage of our sins with us everywhere we go. We do not have to carry the resentment with us for the rest of our lives. Instead, we are allowed to love ourselves and set ourselves free from carrying the grudges.
Think about this. Isn’t this what God expects us to do with others who have also sinned and even sinned against us? How much more when we have surrendered ourselves to Christ are we allowed to let our grudges and resentment against ourselves go.
Don’t resent yourself. Love yourself.
And remember, God’s way works for your life.
(Come back next Monday as we learn that love rejoices at truth, not wrong-doing.)