I have always struggled with feeling guilty for my mistakes. And as a Christian, it is easy to think that guilt is a good thing. After all, doesn’t Christ want us all to realize that we are lost sinners without Him? Doesn’t He want us to feel guilty for our wrongdoings so that we will repent? In a sense, yes He does. But the devil can easily take Godly, repentant guilt and twist it into a trap that we feel is inescapable. What I mean can be best summed up by this verse:
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10
When the devil takes hold of our guilt, suddenly we don’t make mistakes anymore. Instead, our mistakes make us. Our faults are not things we’ve done and can improve upon. They feel like character flaws, inherent and unchangeable. When we regret what we’ve done, the devil enables our regret to destroy us. That is what worldly grief feels like. Godly grief, on the other hand, paints a very different and redeeming picture of our mistakes.
So how is Godly grief different from worldly grief?
Godly grief does not compare:“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”- Romans 3:23. It’s easy to feel guilty when we look at people who seem to be doing so much better than us. I know that I feel like I am a ‘good Christian’ until I see people who appear to be much more passionate about Christ than I currently am. Then I suddenly feel like I am not doing enough to glorify God. In reality, we are all sinners and no one Christian is better than another. Most of us are doing are best to follow Jesus and He is using us in different ways.
Godly grief does not condemn: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1. The worst part of guilt is the fear that we have disappointed God and that He will punish us for what we have done. But scripture reminds us that this fear is unfounded. God knows what we will do long before we ever do it and He has already forgiven us. So we have His permission to forgive ourselves.
Godly grief brings peace: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1. It is unnecessary to have any regret over our sins because Christ already took care of them on the cross. Our faith in Jesus means that we can let go of our past mistakes.
Godly grief does not worry: “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7. We need not worry about the effects our mistakes will have on our lives. Any time you catch yourself getting caught up in the should haves, would haves and what ifs of regret and worry, remind yourself Who is really in control. God took our mistakes into account when He devised His plan for the world. Things will work out the way they are supposed to when you put your faith in Him.
Godly grief removes shame: “As far as the eastern horizon is from the west, so he removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us.”- Psalm 103:12. God wants us to feel guilty for our sins so that we will repent and come to Him. But once we do that, guilt is no longer needed. The devil may lie to you and say that because God holds Christians to a higher moral standard, we have more reason to feel guilty for our transgressions. But Christ says that because of Him we should not feel any guilt at all. We don’t need to dwell on the past or feel shame for what we have done. God will turn our mistakes into something beautiful when we let Him.
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