May I share a few simple statements with you that you will be tempted to gloss over for the fact that they are, in fact, simple? Let me give them to you anyway because they are 100% true and can transform us if we would ever truly believe them.
God, the Creator, knows you perfectly and deeply cares for you. God loves you right where you are.
God has an identity reserved for you. This identity is defined by who you are in Him. You are not your mistakes. You are not your successes. You are not your fears, losses or failures. You are not identified by your accomplishments, appearance or material attainments. You are not who anyone else says you are because they are limited in their ability to understand or define you. Try as they might, they cannot assign you your identity. You are, now and forever, who God says that you are. By the way, do you know who He says that you are? That is a crucial element to your life.
God accepts you through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. You are not partially accepted. You are not tolerated. You are not given a free-pass on a technicality or biblical loophole. You have been made complete in Jesus Christ and God the Father accepts you with the very same welcome He shares with His only begotten Son. It may sound strange, but God delights in you. His love and acceptance of you is immeasurably greater than you can understand and boundlessly vaster than you have ever allowed yourself to feel. This is true for everyone who is in Jesus Christ.
God does not approve of all that you do. He is not a blind Isaac passing an accidental blessing on you, His Jacob. He is committed to revealing to you specific actions and areas of your life that are not consistent with His love for you. This is called conviction and it rises up in your heart with the scent of guilt. Yes, there are times when this loving, accepting and committed God will speak to you in a way that arouses a sense of guilt in your heart for your own wrongdoing. This type of guilt – this conviction of sin – is His gift to you because you could not know of your need for change apart from it. God is a good Parent and will work correction into your life because it is necessary and helpful for you. It does not make God unloving when He awakens you to your guilt. Nor does it make you bad when you hear His voice on this issue.
God will not shame you. Shame is never from God and nothing productive comes from shame. Shame is a weapon of the enemy which actually denies the goodness of God and your acceptance in Him. Guilt says that we have done wrong; shame wrongly takes it up a notch and says that we are wrong. Guilt clearly points out that I have made a mistake; shame lies and says that I am a mistake. Guilt tells you of your need to change and that God will honor your humble repentance; shame hisses that you cannot change because you are a very bad person who should not hold assurance that God will receive you when all is said in done. Guilt will teach you to confess, change and rest. Shame will insist that you fear, cringe and run. Shame is never your friend while guilt actually leads you to something better if you will learn what it actually says. Guilt – this conviction of sin – tells you that you have misstepped but that Jesus walked perfectly where you have gone off the path. Guilt tells you of your need to take His hand by faith and have courage to look in His eyes as He lifts you up to begin walking again. No further scolding, no threats, no demands for you to promise never to fail again. Guilt, when dispatched by God, always leads you to Grace who accompanies you in your next steps.
Today I would want us to trust in the goodness of God to a greater degree than we loathe the badness of self. In Christ, you are not a mistake…though you make many. In Christ, you sometimes do badly…but you are not condemned as being bad. In Christ, you are wise to acknowledge that you have plenty of room to grow up…but never believe because of that truth that it means you have not been born anew. You, my friend, are like the rest of us who journey after Jesus. You are a work in progress. God’s work. He is not finished with you yet so please do not shelve the book of your life before the Author is done writing it. In the end, it is a great story with a glorious ending.