Most people are familiar with the story of the boy who cried wolf in which a young, playful boy repeatedly gives false alarms of a rogue wolf slinking around near his village. The villagers realize that he is lying and don’t believe him when he really does see a wolf (which, in a Grimm brothers’ tale would promptly eat him or in a Disney tale would burst into song about his aspirations).
I often feel that we (and by “we” I mean “I”) are sometimes crying wolf when we (again, “I”) ask for forgiveness. In my case it usually goes something like this *ahem: “God, I’m sooo sorry I [insert repetitive secular indiscretion here] again. I know I shouldn’t have but the flesh is weak (pause, maybe I should let God stop me instead of trying to use my mustard seed sized will power). I will try harder next time so please wipe away my sins so I am like a blank slate”. Now this abbreviated prayer may sound good but not so much if it’s been heard one thousand times. Naturally, it has to be repeated multiple times because I’m not making the effort I promised I would to resist temptation. If I’m not doing what I promised, how can I expect God’s forgiveness and why should he grant it? Sounds logical so far yes?
I went through a period where I wouldn’t ask God for forgiveness because I felt like I didn’t deserve it, especially if I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain; however, I realized that even if I thought I should be ashamed of my sins (especially the repetitive ones), God doesn’t want me (or anyone else) to feel that way indefinitely. Psalm 103:12 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us”, God wants us to recognize our sins, repent, and move forward not dwell on them to the detriment of our relationship with Him. This verse also tells me that God does not and will not hold my mistakes over my head.
Regardless of the sins we may commit, we should never feel like we are too lowly to ask for forgiveness because we are children of the King but it is just as important to accept God’s forgiveness and not hold on to our sins by way of guilt and shame.