My entire life has been an exercise in guilt. There’s the obvious guilt – when I’ve done something wrong, and the Holy Spirit is reminding me I need to make it right. That’s healthy; that’s good; and that’s where conviction serves its true purpose.
But no, I’ve bought into a more twisted guilt that ultimately leads to my disadvantage, and affects the lives of everyone around me. See, I have a tendency to feel guilty for not only things I’ve done wrong, but for things I’ve done right. Yup. Why should I feel guilty when I’ve done something right? Because the enemy whispers in my ear saying I don’t deserve what goes well for me, and I listen. I did nothing to deserve the wonderful family and freakishly amazing friends that I have. I must have really fooled them all somehow, right? The Bible says we don’t deserve love on our own merits. So isn’t it hypocritical to accept blessings we don’t deserve? No – absolutely no. Allowing those thoughts to take root is what I call “runaway guilt”, and we can conquer it.Runaway guilt can be defeated with one thing: gratefulness. Acknowledge the true giver of every good thing and thank Him for it overwhelmingly. Earlier this year, I accomplished an educational goal that I set for myself over 20 years ago. Twenty years!!! I know I could not have done if it Christ didn’t empower me to do so. He provided the determination and encouragement I needed to keep going when it felt like there was no point. But I was able to work hard because I trusted in Him.
Theologically, I know I don’t deserve anything good on my own merit. But when we accept what Christ did for us on the cross, the idea of deserving/not deserving favor should get tossed out the window. As a child of His, I will be blessed, because he loves and looks after His children. I should accept those blessings on HIS behalf, because it’s not about me. He chose to put good things in my life because he loves me. I should thank him for it, and be grateful. When I’m tempted to feel guilty about an accomplishment or a blessing, I need to acknowledge the good things I’ve done, and thank God for the opportunity to do them. Punishing myself or refusing to accept the good takes away from His gift. Ultimately, it diminishes what Christ did on the cross, and that is a gift I cannot refuse.