Ah, there are those nights when you feel guilty. You blew up at your kids. You made a mistake at work that cost others time to correct. You exchanged angry words with your husband. Maybe your spending got out of control and now you’re frantically trying to fix things. We’ve all had these days. And we’ve all had nights where we go to bed, feeling like a complete failure.
Is Guilt from God?
I believe, while conviction is from God and stirred up in us by the Holy Spirit, guilt is not from God. Guilt punishes. Conviction sets us free. Conviction prompts us to take responsibility for our actions, apologize where we need to, and make amends. Guilt on the other hand condemns us and sends us headfirst into a pit of despair.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). If you haven’t memorized this verse yet, I suggest you do so because here’s the thing: Satan loves to discourage you with guilt. Christ’s work is complete on the cross. He died for every sin you have committed and every sin you will commit. It is all covered by His blood and you, my friend, are rendered clean and forgiven. Are you going to make mistakes in your life and even willfully sin at times? Yup! We are not perfect yet. When we feel conviction for sin, how should we respond? WE apologize and make amends where necessary.
How Do We Move Beyond Guilt?
Remember, God is Compassionate. The Psalmist reminds us that God is compassionate and mindful that we are dust (Psalm 103:13-14). We are not perfect. For those of us who are perfectionists, this is a tough one. The enemy will often target those who have high standards with feelings of guilt. When you are drowning in guilt feelings, spend a few moments worshipping God for His compassionate love. Yield your thinking to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to control your thoughts. Then dare to celebrate God’s love in some tangible way.
Differentiate Between Your Expectations and God’s. The Apostle Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Women often place higher expectations on themselves than God does and in so doing place a yoke of slavery on themselves. For example, some women believe they need to cook a homemade meal every night. They’ve said to me, “I feel so guilty. I’m ordering take out again. I don’t feel like cooking.” Others might feel guilty because their home is not in perfect order. Some feel guilty for the choices their kids are making. Here’s the thing: you will not be perfect. Only God is perfect, and, by the way, His kids sure messed up in the garden. Feel the conviction when you sin – anything that goes against scripture or breaks your relationship with God. When you don’t meet your own standards, give yourself grace.
Offer Grace to Others. Walk grace out. The Apostle Paul reminds us to “Walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). When you are truly walking in the power of the Holy Spirit you will offer grace to others because that’s God’s heart. The good news is there’s a bit of a boomerang effect with grace. The most judgmental people often have the hardest time receiving grace themselves. The most gracious people seem to be able to internalize grace more easily. Let go of judging others and offer grace instead, and I’m promising you will experience more grace yourself.
Friend, this week, luxuriate in God’s grace. Remember God is compassionate, differentiate between your expectations and God’s, and offer grace to others. As you internalize God’s grace and let go of guilt, I believe your life will be filled with more joy!