Mark 12:30-31 “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Often we are kind to others when they make mistakes or have problems but when we have problems or make mistakes we treat ourselves harshly. If our friend has a sinful habit we may say something like, “Remember God’s grace and forgiveness. God loves you and he will help you. Let me pray for you.” But if we ourselves are struggling our thoughts towards ourselves may be something like, “Why do you keep making this mistake? What kind of christian are you? How long do you think God will forgive you?”
We are keeping a double standard and are letting a nasty inner dialogue dominate our thoughts and feelings, one of deep regret at hate towards ourselves.
When we are harsh on ourselves we have harsh feelings towards others who make mistakes even if we don’t like to admit it. Our inner justice system says, “How is it fair that you let him off the hook and forgive him when you don’t let yourself off the hook when you make mistakes?” So inwardly we judge him even if outwardly our words are showing forgiveness. In order to forgive someone from the heart we must also learn how to let ourselves be forgiven and that means treating ourselves nicer.
In church I often heard the slogan that you must always be progressing. If you’re not progressing your sliding back. You should always be trying your hardest to be perfect even if you can’t be.
However there is a more important lesson to learn. We are never going to be perfect even in our best moments and we shouldn’t exhaust ourselves trying to be. Instead it’s important to realize you have mistakes and you are always going to have mistakes and be ok with that. To accept where you are, to let yourself off the hook and do the same for others. There comes a point where you realize it’s a vain competition, we are competing with our church members to be the best possible person. Instead we should learn to accept and love where we are flaws and all.
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
It’s more important to push yourself to be gracious than to strive to be perfect. What will you gain if you’re perfect but judgemental?
Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”
Start listening to your inner dialogue and notice how harsh you are treating yourself. Then counter it. Show yourself the same grace you would show a friend.
Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Notice it was not the man who strived to be perfect who was justified by God, rather it was the humble man. The one who recognized he had mistakes and trusted in God to forgive him.