DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: If God forgives us, then why can’t we seem to forgive ourselves? I’ve hurt a lot of people over the years, and I’ll never stop feeling guilty. I’ve even stayed away from some people because of what I did to them years ago. Is it ever possible to forgive ourselves? — K.R.
DEAR K.R.: Never lose sight of this great truth: When we come to Christ and put our faith and trust in him for our salvation, God forgives us of all our sins, without exception. The Bible says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
If God has forgiven us, then why can’t we forgive ourselves? One reason, I suspect, is because the memories of what we’ve done still haunt us (including, in your case, the hurt you’ve caused others).
I think, for example, of the Apostle Paul, who at one time hated Jesus and was determined to persecute (and even kill) anyone who followed him. Those memories stayed with him all his life, although he knew God had fully forgiven him. Years later, the memory of what he’d done still burned within him: “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9).
How did Paul deal with his guilt? First, he constantly reminded himself that Christ had forgiven him, totally and completely. Then he reached out to those he’d hurt and sought their forgiveness. I urge you to do the same.
In addition, he made it his goal to live for Christ every day and not be controlled by his past. Thank God every day for his forgiveness, and ask him to help you put Christ first in everything.
Write “My Answer,” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; or go to BillyGraham.org.
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