Monday, March 28, 2005

A Trap Called Guilt

It's weird. When I first became a Christian, I had no trouble handing over all my previous sins and guilt over to God. I had no problem receiving forgiveness because of (or through) Jesus' sacrifice for me.

But afterward....huh. For years when I would sin or make mistakes or however you want to put it, I would hold onto the guilt like it was holy or something. Like I deserved to feel guilty for weeks because of what I'd done.

Oh, think you've never done that? ....Hmmmm?

Have you ever done something which you, afterward, knew darn well was wrong, so then you asked forgiveness, but then you asked for something else too--a sort of a deal which goes a little like this: "Lord, if you'll just forgive me one more time, I'll spend the next two days doing kind things for people. And I'll be extra-nice to my husband, too."

Good grief. I used to do that all the time, never realizing it was a downright insult to God. I mean, here He'd gone and sent His son to die for me, yet I was still, thousands of years later, making my own sacrifices for my own sins. Still paying for the ones I committed most often.

I didn't realize that either Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was enough--or it wasn't. I didn't realize that I'd become proficient at turning conviction from God into ugly, bat-over-the-head condemnation.

Guilt, the walking-around-and-feeling-bad-about-yourself kind, is a trap. Not only does it make me feel shameful when I'm around other Christians who appear to be more holy than I am, but it tempts me to avoid God. It causes me to spend time hiding from Him (as if I could) because of an innate embarrassment. When I hold onto guilt instead of letting it go, I become extremely sin-conscious instead of new-life-conscious.

That kind of guilt is like quicksand. If I'm to become like Jesus, I must spend time with Him. Listen to His voice. Get to know Him for myself. Yet if I'm stuck in the quicksand of guilt--avoiding Him because of my sins or trying to pay for them--then
I'll not grow, just as fruit cannot grow when it's not receiving life-giving sap from the tree.

Well, anyway...that is what I've found.

My whole life changed when I finally learned to run to God when I had sinned--instead of running away from Him by trying to pay for my badness myself. I still mess up every single day, yet Jesus and I still have a great time together each day. And I'm growing now, especially since Grace arrived to help me around my house--and around my heart.

The three of us are having one terrific time.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." ... I John 1:7

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