Hard to Forgive Yourself

Written on 03/20/2023
Christian Dunn

Verse: Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Do you ever have a hard time forgiving yourself? Yesterday at church we talked about forgiving each other, but sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself! I find Psalm 51 helpful and hopeful when I am in that place. First it reminds us that God is merciful. If God is merciful with us when we sin, we should be too. He is compassionate with us, and he cleanses us from all of our sin. When we beat ourselves up, live in shame, and refuse to forgive ourselves we are missing out on the blessing that God is offering us. He is not the one holding our sin over our heads. In Christ he has forgiven us fully. 

"For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;"

It is right and good to admit when we have sinned. I love how David, the author of Psalm 51, points out his sin and realizes how sin has broken relationship with God. He names it and owns it. "I have sinned against you God." There is no excuse making or minimizing—he just owns it, and leans into God's mercy.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

After confessing his sin and relying on God's mercy he moves on! He doesn't dwell on the past, but he looks to the future. He asks that God would work in his heart to make him new again. He prayers for healing and restoration. No matter what we've done God can heal and restore us! Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus we can pray this prayer with even more confidence than David—"God please create a clean heart in me! Going forward help me to become more like you, to walk away from sin and towards righteousness. Renew my passion for you and my joy for following you."

If you are struggling with forgiving yourself today, let these words from the Bible encourage you. Let them remind you that you are not alone, and that God has one the work! All you have to do is bring your sin to him, he will do the rest!