THE Bible is filled with heartfelt expressions from men “with feelings like ours.” (Jas. 5:17) For example, we can readily empathize with Paul’s candid admission found at Romans 7:21-24: “When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. . . . Miserable man that I am!” Such honest feelings reassure us when we contend with our own imperfections.
Paul expressed other sincere feelings too. At Galatians 2:20, he stated his conviction that Jesus “loved [him] and handed himself over for [him]” personally! Does that describe “feelings like ours” as well? Perhaps not always.
If we contend with feelings of low self-worth because of past sins, we may at times struggle to accept Jehovah’s love and forgiveness, let alone to view the ransom sacrifice as a personal gift to us. Does Jesus really want us to view the ransom in that way? If so, what can help us to do that? Let us examine those two questions.
JESUS’ VIEW OF HIS SACRIFICE
Yes, Jesus wants us to view his sacrifice as a personal gift. How can we be sure of that? Picture the scene recorded at Luke 23:39-43. A man hangs on a torture stake near Jesus. He admits that he is guilty of past wrongdoing. The crime must have been serious because this cruel punishment was reserved for criminals of the lowest sort. Distressed by his plight, the man begs Jesus: “Remember me when you get into your Kingdom.”
How did Jesus respond? Imagine him as he painfully adjusts his head to make eye contact. Although in agony, he musters up a warm smile and reassures the man: “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus could simply have reminded the man that “the Son of man came . . . to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) But did you notice that Jesus kindly emphasized the personal nature of his sacrifice? He set a friendly tone when he used the personal pronouns “you” and “me.” And he kept it personal when he alluded to the man’s prospect, to live on a paradise earth.
No doubt, Jesus wanted this man to accept his sacrifice as a personal gift. If Jesus felt this way about a criminal who had not even had an opportunity to serve God, he would surely feel this way about a baptized Christian who is serving God. What can help us, then, to cultivate such a wholesome feeling about ourselves despite our past sins?
WHAT HELPED PAUL
Paul’s ministry influenced the way he viewed Jesus’ sacrifice. How so? He explained: “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who imparted power to me, because he considered me faithful by assigning me to a ministry, although formerly I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man.” (1 Tim. 1:12-14) Paul’s assignment reassured him of Jesus’ mercy, love, and trust in him personally. Jesus likewise entrusted us with a personal ministry. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Can it affect us similarly?
Albert, who recently returned to Jehovah after being disfellowshipped for almost 34 years, explains: “My sins are always before me. But when I am in the ministry, I feel that, like the apostle Paul, I have personally been given a ministry from Jesus. It builds me up and keeps me feeling positive about myself, my life, and my future.”—Ps. 51:3.
Allan, who lived a life of crime and violence before he learned the truth, admits: “I still think of all the harm I caused to people. At times, it makes me depressed. But I thank Jehovah that he allows a sinner like me to bring the good news to others. When I see people’s reaction to the good news, it reminds me of how good and loving Jehovah is. I feel that he uses me to assist others who are struggling with a similar background.”
Our personal ministry allows us to focus our energies on positive actions and thoughts. It reassures us of Jesus’ mercy, love, and trust in us.
JEHOVAH IS GREATER THAN OUR HEARTS
Until Satan’s wicked system is done away with, our hearts may continue to condemn us because of our past errors. What will help us combat such feelings?
“I love that ‘God is greater than our hearts,’” says Jean, who often struggles with feelings of guilt over the double life she led when she was young. (1 John 3:19, 20) We too can take comfort in knowing that Jehovah and Jesus have a much better perspective of our sinful condition than we do. Remember, they lovingly provided the ransom, not for perfect humans, but for repentant sinful ones.—1 Tim. 1:15.
We assure our hearts of this precious truth when we prayerfully meditate on the way Jesus treated imperfect humans and when we do our best to fulfill the ministry he has assigned us. By doing so you, like Paul, can say: Jesus “loved me and handed himself over for me.”