“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” — 1 John 2:1 (ESV)
As Christians striving to love others well and live in obedience to the commands of Christ, we often are harder on ourselves than our Heavenly Father is. If we are ever going to experience the depths of God’s love in every season, we must learn to forgive ourselves. In Brennan Manning’s book, “Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging,” he writes a powerful statement that has the ability to both guide us to a greater lifestyle of peace and open the door of our hearts to greater affections from our Heavenly Father:
But we cannot assume that He feels about us the way we feel about ourselves — unless we love ourselves compassionately, intensely, and freely. In human form Jesus revealed to us what God is like. He exposed our projections for the idolatry that they are and gave us the way to become free of them. It takes a profound conversion to accept that God is relentlessly tender and compassionate toward us just as we are — not in spite of our sins and faults (that would not be total acceptance), but with them. Though God does not condone or sanction evil, He does not withhold His love because there is evil in us.
Our Father loves us unconditionally. His grace and mercy will never run out. He is never surprised when we sin or fall short of the life to which we’ve been called because He knows our need of Him. He knows that without His help we will never succeed in living a lifestyle of obedience. He knows that without consistent encounters with His love we will never be able to fully love others. And He knows that without being consistently filled with the Holy Spirit we will never be empowered to live in the freedom from sin Christ’s death affords us.
First John 2:1 (ESV) says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” God does not condone our sin. He does not enjoy our mistakes. But He will meet us in our place of brokenness and need every time we fail. He will offer us mercy and compassion every time we come to Him in confession and repentance. And nothing could ever cause Him to stop loving us for even a moment.
Your Heavenly Father is beckoning you to forgive yourself today. He’s waiting to fill you with His mercy and grace to overflowing. He’s ready to lead you into a lifestyle of loving yourself as He has loved you. Run out to meet Him today. Allow Him to clothe you with love, honor and grace. Allow Him to show you the depths of His compassion for you. And live today in light of the glorious grace of Jesus.
— Craig Denison, First 15
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