I have been thinking about guilt a lot lately. I've been thinking about sin and grace and redemption and justification, and how all of that works together.
James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2). I think of it this way: If we don't have enough faith for Christ's will and commands to affect our lives, do we have any faith at all? It makes me think of Revelation 3:16. God would rather have our true devotion or our rejection than a faith so small that it does not even affect our lifestyle.
So, considering this passage, I have been very aware of my guilt. My sins have weighed heavily on me and have been hard to carry. Each time I stumble, I think, "Do I not have enough faith to follow God here?" This, I think, is good in a way. It seems rare that I actually feel my guilt; I am always excusing myself with my sin nature and with God's grace. But, it is important for there to be balance. If we focus only on our guilt and bury ourselves entirely in the fact that we have offended God, we will be blinded to God's most beautiful gift: redemption.
1 Corinthians 15:56+57 says, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Then, verse 58 says, "Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain!"
(I added the !s, but how could I not?)
Jesus has conquered sin! He conquered it by giving us His marvelous grace. He freed us from sin by freeing us from guilt. BUT, like Paul points out, our freedom from guilt is no excuse to continue in sin. Jesus has conquered sin, and He has broken it and its power over us. We are free to sin no more!
And, despite the times we fall down, our redemption is sure.
This song has been encouraging me a lot lately: listen.
I am praying through a prayer book compiled by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. Today's prayer finds me right where I am. I want to reproduce the whole thing here, but I'll just highlight a few things, although the juxtaposition of it all is brilliant.
Their interpretation of Psalm 130 included this:
If You, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand? For there is forgiveness with you; therefore You shall be feared. I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for Him. In his word is my hope.
I love the bit about His forgiveness leading us to fear. Because of His mercy, we are drawn to fearing Him and glorifying Him.
The prayer ended with this:
Lord, mold us and form us into the kind of people you want us to be. Be patient with us when we fall short of what love demands of us. And give us patience with ourselves. Catch us in the arms of your grace.