“Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Genesis 45:5
Today’s verse gives amazing insight about how to forgive yourself. Joseph was telling his brothers to stop being angry with themselves for betraying him. Keep in mind, these are the same brothers who sold him into slavery; which led to being falsely accused and falsely imprisoned. As forgiven people, we should be promoters of forgiveness. We also recognize that sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself.
Joseph’s attitude represents the nature of Jesus. “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28). By forgiving his brothers, Joseph released them from any expectation of restitution and from fear of retribution. But he also wanted them to release themselves from guilt and anger.
Being your own worst critic isn’t near the virtue some would have us to believe. When you don’t forgive yourself, you allow the enemy an opportunity to set up a stronghold in your life. “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26–27). Although we usually think of those verses in relation to others, it also applies to self-directed anger.
So, where do you begin? Start by confessing what you did to the Lord; asking for His forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Then, if possible, apologize to the ones you’ve hurt. Keep in mind, an apology has two parts: I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me? And accept that you cannot control their response. You can only do what’s within your power to do.
Too many people refuse to forgive themselves as a self-inflicted punishment for something they said or did years ago. Don’t fall into that trap. Jesus took your punishment on the Cross. When you don’t forgive yourself, you sit on the throne of your life instead of God. You either believe the Bible is true in its instruction, or you don’t. Yes, the hardest person to forgive might be yourself; but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it right now!