One of the most difficult things in life to do is to admit defeat. I don't just mean that we admit we have lost this one encounter, but to say out loud that I have striven and completely failed, that takes guts. Too often I hope to hold something in reserve. I lost but...next time I'll be stronger...I only made one little mistake...they cheated.
This morning I met a challenge that I could not overcome. I bought a workout video and tried to follow along with the leader on the screen. After the first few exercises my abdominal muscles were so tired and sore that I had absolutely no strength left. I could not even fake my way through the exercises. I failed and there was no way around it. I had to say it...out loud..."I failed."
This applies spiritually as well. Forgiveness works best, or rather comes easiest, when I simply admit total failure. If I confess my sins to my wife, yet want to hold something back, she will not wish to forgive. "Honey, I'm sorry but...you are at fault too...it's not all my fault...I'll do better next time."
I know that when others have apologized to me their sincere admission of fault and failure has moved me to compassion and pity rather than anger at what they did. It is easier to forgive someone who is completely repentant as opposed to the one who wants to pass off some of the blame.
It is not that I believe God has trouble forgiving me. He is much more compassionate and merciful than I am. After all, He has already done everything necessary to account for the forgiveness of my sins. (He sent His Son to die and rise for me!) I do believe, however, that the admission of guilt, the admission that I have utterly failed in the roles that God has blessed me with, brings with it a different attitude toward God and His gifts.
If I hold something back, then I might deserve God's forgiveness. But if it is all my fault, if I bear the full responsibility for my sinful actions, then I cannot deserve the forgiveness. I can only be blessed with it. It can only be given freely through God's infinite grace.
Lord, help me to lay all my sins before You, to admit defeat, that You may give me Your victory.