As Christians, we should be especially familiar with the concept of second chances - giving people another go at getting things right and, of course, being afforded the opportunity to do so ourselves. God gives us room time and time again to move on from our mistakes and He commands us to extend the same courtesy and compassion to others.
Although the phrase "second chance" might bring to mind a limit on how often we outstretch a hand of forgiveness to someone who has wronged us, if we're following in Christ's footsteps and listening to his instructions, we should be prepared to forgive and be forgiven more than once. But that doesn't mean that forgiveness itself or our understanding of it diminishes.
Some of us still struggle with being on the receiving end of a second chance. Here are three things we can do when we're given a second chance.
Don't try and undo
We can have an apparently insatiable urge to erase our past failures. But, regardless of whether our faults are between us and God or are known by other people, no matter how hard we try, this is something that we can't do. The damage will already have been done and although we shouldn't ignore what we've done wrong, trying to go back and fix things when the consequences of our actions have already been suffered will probably only make things worse and cause more harm to the person we're trying to help. By all means we should apologise and act so that we avoid similar behaviour in the future but it's often best that we don't keep going over and over the past.
Swap guilt for goodness
If we recognise and regret having let someone down, betrayed their trust or simply failed to do what we should have, then the subsequent feeling of guilt is inevitable. However, there's no need for us to feel guilty forever. If we believe in reconciliation, then we also need to understand that it frees us from the trappings of sin and that includes constantly feeling bad about our past. Instead of wallowing in self pity, we can use our failures to fuel our thirst to do good. It's also a apt moment to look to God and once again realise how good He is to forgive us for our sins and to never let us down.
If we're on the receiving end of a second or third or even 'nth' chance, we can end up taking it for granted. Just because forgiveness is readily available to us, doesn't mean we should ignore the great cost at which it came - especially if what you did genuinely hurt another person. We can show our appreciation for the forgiveness we've received in a number of ways, by voicing our gratitude to the particular person and by praising God, by demonstrating that we can learn from our mistakes and by being gracious in our forgiveness of others.