Stop punishing yourself

justiceRecently I sat with a man who simply could not accept forgiveness… be it divine or human… he simply could not accept forgiveness. 

He wanted to. He needed to. He believed it for others, but could not accept it for himself.

With this conversation fresh on my mind I stopped in my tracks when I read this from Don Miguel Ruiz (author of The Four Agreements):

“True justice is paying only once for each mistake. True injustice is paying more than once for each mistake.”

I realized that my friend is living with a terrible sense of injustice. His “god” is an unjust one. He is a victim of his twisted sense of justice.

As a Christian I believe what the Bible says about my God… that He is a just God who both loves and rules with justice.

For instance: “For the LORD is righteous, and he loves justice. Those who do what is right will see his face” (Psalm 11:7 NLT).

As I ponder my friend’s plight, the words of Ruiz, and the teaching of Scripture, I realize that many people’s theology may have led them to a place of personal and repeated persecution… a prison in which they are both the warden and the prisoner.

There is an escape. It’s called justice!

The penalty has been paid for each mistake/sin I, you, and my friend have committed and may commit. This is how St. Paul explains it:

God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight– not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago.  22 We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.  23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.  25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. (Romans 3:21-25 NLT)

Jesus took the beating for my sin. God graciously offered Him and accepts Him as the sacrifice for my sin. He took my punishment! Justice has been served! When I believe this I am forgiven… and there’s no need to keep punishing myself for something that has already been atoned for!

Stop punishing yourself! Stop living in injustice! Set yourself free from the prison you are guarding with old memories!

Sure you sinned. You messed up. You did “stupid” with the best of them! BUT justice has been served. The wrong is forgiven… you are free!

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