from a Minister's pen
"36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, Sit here, while I go over there and pray." [...] 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” […] 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
~ Matthew 26:36-46 (ESV)
In Matthew 26:36-46, we see Jesus giving a command to His disciples to watch and pray as He goes to pray, but the disciples were too tired and weak to obey Jesus’ command. If we go back and read versus 40 through 44, we see where Jesus had left and came back to the disciples three times, only to find them sleeping instead of praying (despite His command for them to “watch” with him). Take note that in this scripture, although the disciples failed to do what Jesus had commanded them to do (more than once), He did not condemn them; instead, Jesus told them to “Rise, let us be going”.
One of the most beautiful truths that we find, or better yet not find in the Scriptures, is the responsibility of “forgiving ourselves.” The beauty of truth is that Jesus never commanded for us to forgive ourselves, as only He can forgive sin, but rather to repent of our sins (Mark 1:15) and move forward, or “let us be going” (v. 46).
Let me remind us that like the disciples here in this scripture, we all have a willing spirit, but our flesh is very weak (v41). Having weak flesh, however, is not an excuse to continue in or pursue sin or disobedience, but rather a recognition that we spiritually desire to follow every command of Jesus even though our flesh is weak (i.e., have you ever set out to read the Bible, or pray, but fell asleep instead because your body was tired? The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak). Jesus understands this, although He does not excuse it, which is why we are giving the opportunity to repent. Once we repent, we must not remain stagnant and wallow in our error, or shortcomings, until we are able to forgive ourselves. Remember, Jesus never commanded for us to forgive ourselves, in order that God’s will be done.
Spiritually, we desire to do all that our Lord commands us to do, but the truth is that we are not perfect, and Jesus knows that (v41). If we had to forgive ourselves, we probably would not move forward because of the guilt and shame we may feel when we fail to follow His commands. Jesus, in His truth and love, encourages us to get up and move forward after we fall (v46) because there is work to do (v45); there is plenty of work to do in the ministry (Matthew 9:37).
Can you imagine how distracted, or “stationary”, the disciples would have been if they were required to forgive themselves every time they fell short? They would likely have been hindered by guilt, shame, and/or self-doubt.
So, when you feel shame for not obeying Christ the first time, think back on Matthew 26:36-46 and remind yourself that Christ did not condemn his disciples. Be reminded that Jesus calls us to repent and move forward with Him in the ministry. There is too much work to do for you to give up in this Christian walk. Jesus does not ask that you forgive yourself, but only repent before Him and move forward with your responsibility that He has called you to do. Only Satan causes guilt and shame to hinder you from your calling, but God causes you to rise in His love, even after you fall short of His glory. Only a loving, caring, merciful, and gracious God encourages you to get up and move forward after a fall.
God Bless You,
What it's all about!
In this area, you will find monthly inspirational nuggets that will prayerfully inspire a deeper relationship with God, a deeper understanding of God's word, and/or inspire you to search the Scriptures even the more; all of which will prayerfully help you in your Christian walk as you seek to find acceptance and peace with where God has you right now in your life, and with what He is doing right now in your life. As always, be blessed!