Years ago, when I was in my late teens, I worked at a weight loss facility. We were called to a team meeting one day because someone had been pilfering from the cash box and they wanted to find the culprit. I didn’t even have access to the cash box; yet, I felt guilty nonetheless.
That personality trait has followed me into adulthood. If I’m in the same vicinity as someone who is in trouble, I will feel guilty as though I committed the crime. This quirk has bled over into my spiritual life.
I was having a conversation with someone the other day about sin and our correct response when we find ourselves having sinned.
The first thing we should strive for is to stay in a state of being in tune with God. When we strive to stay close to Him, listening for His voice, then we will catch our sins faster, and they are easier to correct and move on from that way.
When God convicts us of some sin in our lives, we are to confess that sin immediately, then believe God forgave us because that is what we are assured of from His word. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9, NIV). God also tells us “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12, NIV).
Once we’ve done that, it’s over. Finished. We need to move on. Not dwell on the sin we committed, not relive it over and over, calling ourselves names or not believe we’re worthy of God forgiving us. We need to instead live in the freedom of forgiveness, grace, and be thankful for the way God forgives so quickly and easily when we confess with a repentant heart.
That part of the process was always difficult for me. I had a hard time forgiving myself. After all, I’d been a Christian since I was six years old. I should know better. I shouldn’t still be struggling with this sin or that sin.
Well, guess what? We’re human and imperfect. God knows we needed a Savior and that’s why He had Jesus come down on earth to save us from our sins. When we choose not to forgive ourselves, we’re actually sinning again. Yes, that’s right. Sounds harsh but it’s the truth. If God says He forgives us, then He forgives us. Plain and simple.
I’m also working on not feeling guilty being in the same room as someone who has committed a sin. Not sure where that lovely trait came from, but it’s time I put it to rest once and for all. Life is too short to waste time feeling guilty for something I didn’t do, and God’s grace is too big to waste time feeling guilty when He’s forgiven me. © Cheri Swalwell 2021