Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself?
For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:3
Occasionally, I’ll encounter those who think I’m too hard on myself. They read my blog and they find that I’m too critical of my own flaws. If you know me personally, you’re probably thinking that can’t be true, but if you only know my writing, you may think that I’m obsessed with failure. Those who would critique me in this manner usually feel that I don’t completely understand grace and forgiveness. Stop being so hard on yourself. You’re forgiven. God doesn’t remember your sins.
It is true that I’m forgiven by God for all eternity. It’s also true though, that those who may be critical of me probably weren’t there for the disaster of my addiction. They weren’t personally betrayed and hurt by my toxic, addictive behavior. So, it’s easy for them to say that I’m forgiven and shouldn’t worry so much about my flaws.
To them, I’d say that most of us Christians, tend to abuse grace. Because we understand ourselves to be forgiven and free from the eternal consequences of sin, we mistakenly think that there aren’t Earthly consequences. By twisting grace in this way, we can excuse all manner of evil behavior. We can do anything we want and never feel bad about it, because – we’re forgiven! We’re not too self-critical, but rather, we probably go far too easy on ourselves. Because we’ve accepted Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, we understand that we’re now pretty good people. We’ve got our stamped ticket for heaven, and we don’t do anything too terrible, so we fool ourselves into thinking we’re quite something. I am a pretty good guy. God is lucky to have me.
In today’s passage though, Paul brings us back down to reality. You’re not all that. If you think you are, you’re deluded, falling victim to the most of dangerous self-deceptions (my paraphrase). As soon as we begin to think we’re fine the way we are, and that we don’t need growth and change, we embrace deadly pride. In such a condition we’ve actually turned our backs on God.
I’m not saying we must walk around in sackcloth and ashes, crying all day. We are forgiven and we should be joyful and thankful for that. We should also however, recognize our continual need for God. We may be absolved for all eternity, but our sin can and does cause misery and distance from God here on Earth. It’s only in continually choosing humility in all things that we may recognize our ongoing need for God, daily growing in obedience and faith in him.