Unless you’ve avoided the Olympic games and television and news feeds in general, you’re probably aware of the embellished robbery story with Ryan Lochte and three other American swimmers. As I watched his interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, I was moved with compassion.
It’s OK Ryan.
I mean, it’s not really okay and he knows that. But have you ever done something stupid? Something you wish you could reverse time and change or fix? We all have. I think what Jesus said about that was, “If you haven’t ever done something you regret, than go ahead, pick up the first stone” (John 8:7, my paraphrase).
I watched Ryan’s composure and recognized his regret because I’ve been in his shoes. He said, “I took away from their accomplishments about this story, about me being immature for one night. I took away from that. And that’s what I think hurts me the most, is that – all that – everyone’s just watching my immature antics. And I’m just – I’m embarrassed.”
The reason I’m talking about this on a Mirror Ministries blog is because as much as Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so is the devil and his bag of condemnation. I know Ryan wishes he could reverse and fix what he did. I know thirty-something years later, I still have things I wish I could go back and change. The difference for me today is that I finally laid down the guilt and forgave myself.
Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” This gives us the problem and answer all wrapped in one statement. You see, when we walk (behave and are led by) the flesh, something dumb is bound to happen and the result is deep condemnation. BUT if we walk by the Spirit (know who we are in Christ, acknowledge that still, small voice that wants to lead us in paths of righteousness and goodness), we won’t find ourselves in situations we regret. The combo good news with these truths is that EVEN IF you make a mistake you can’t reverse, there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
In other words, there’s no lasting verdict or sentence of guilt pronounced on those who belong to Christ and are repentive for their actions. After Jesus suggested stones be thrown by those who had never sinned, He asked the accused woman –the one caught in the act of her sin–, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11).
These words still get me. Go and sin no more. In the midst of my self-inflicted condemnation, there was nothing more my heart wanted to do then to “sin no more.” I imagine Ryan feels the same way. And my prayer is that he will find the same forgiveness and restoration I found. But the key is in forgiving himself. Accusers, haters, and nay-sayers will always be around. Jesus scattered them with words of Truth. They weren’t the problem anymore. The problem became, will you forgive yourself? Jesus said, “I don’t condemn you so don’t condemn yourself” (my paraphrase).
Think about it. Sin brings condemnation. Go and sin no more. Go and condemn yourself no more.
Jesus has forgiven you. Isn’t it time you forgive yourself?