The foolishness of this practice should be self evident. What can our self inflicted punishment do to help our victim, or for that matter, ourselves? What good can come of it?
It's common to hold on to guilt and shame when we've hurt someone, but those feelings do not come from God. They come from our enemy, Satan. Guilt and shame prolong pain and suffering while providing nothing of value to anyone. They leave us looking back, and while we're busy focusing on the past, it's very difficult to move forward with Christ.
Instead of guilt, God requires repentance. These two words mean very different things. Repentance is an acknowledgment of the wrong we have done followed by a commitment to change our ways, but guilt carries no such commitment. Guilt causes us to live in the shadow of our past disgrace, while repentance looks forward in anticipation of God's grace.
We know that because of Christ's amazing sacrifice, all our sins are forgiven whenever we call upon the Lord with a repentant heart. God has the most perfect sense of justice in all of creation, yet in His mercy He has decreed that all offenses are paid in full by Christ's blood for those who call Him Savior. In His eyes, we stand worthy to be forgiven.
We must forgive ourselves as we forgive others and for all the same reasons - so that we can move past anger, bitterness, loss and regret. There is no honor in guilt and there is nothing to be gained in prolonging our punishment. There is no exception in God's laws about forgiving ourselves so we must remember to apply this commandment to ourselves. Never forget that guilt and shame come from the Enemy, so do not give them a foothold. Replace guilt with repentance and begin moving ahead to where Jesus is waiting to continue His walk with you.
This was a very timely devotional for me. I can be my toughest critic and I tend to beat myself up over every little mistake I make. I often allow myself to be haunted by my actions - by regret. If I feel I have have wronged or offended someone I will replay it over and over again in my head and spend hours wishing I would have said things differently or acted differently even after I have asked for forgiveness and especially if I am not extended forgiveness by the person I have offended or wronged.
I too often forget that God knows my heart and He knows when I am sincerely sorry for whatever it is I have done in the past. He is a God of forgiveness even when others may not pardon me for my errors or even if I don't pardon myself. He gave the ultimate sacrifice so that I might live a life full of His love and reprieve. Believing that I am unworthy of forgiveness is like saying that I have more authority than God. He is willing to forgive me therefor I should be willing to forgive myself and others.
I hope this also found you encouraged. Forgiving ourselves is tougher than it sounds. But with God's mercy and grace - forgiveness can be achieved so that we can continue to enjoy a life full of His love.
*Excerpts from Delve Into Jesus Devotionals