Self-Loathing and Forgiveness
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Most of us who’ve struggled with drugs or alcohol are familiar with self-loathing. As we’ve sunk deeper into the depths of our addiction, we’ve lost control, surrendering to corrupt behavior that we never would have engaged in previously. Profoundly ashamed of ourselves, we feel completely worthless, and in this state, it’s difficult to imagine redemption. Having tried and failed so many times to change, we feel utterly hopeless.
To this, Paul argued that there is always hope. Though we’ve failed too many times to count, God still loves us. We didn’t earn that love and no amount of self-destructive behavior and sin can make him not love us. God showed us that love by sacrificing of himself in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. In that act, our sin and failure can be removed if we will turn to God, ask forgiveness, and repent. In being forgiven, God sees, not our catastrophe, but rather his own righteousness reflected back to him. In turning to God, we’ll find that we’re loved and forgiven by the one who made us.
This can and should be a world-changing reality for the one whose known nothing but failure in his addiction. As Christians, we should be happy to share this truth and even happier to see the addict find forgiveness. Sometimes though, we can be a little resentful of that forgiveness. It’s not fair that he can live such a disastrous life and then just find forgiveness. He’s hurt so many people and in turning to God, he feels he’s free from all of that.
First, the passage doesn’t say that the sinner will be forgiven by everyone on Earth that he’s ever hurt. He must still repent, change his ways, prove himself, and earn trust back. The passage simply promises that redemption and reconciliation to God are possible. If the addict truly desires transformation, he must start with his relationship with God and work outward from there.
Second, our resentment reveals our own pride and hypocrisy. We too, require God’s forgiveness. We will never need to forgive someone else more than God has already forgiven us. We’re not more worthy of God’s love than the addict. God’s grace and mercy is something we all desperately need. Thankfully he has enough love, grace, and mercy for us all.