Guilt and Grace

“Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.” 1 John 3:21

Guilt. That yucky feeling I get when I make a mistake, hurt others or sometimes even accidentally mess up . When I feel guilty, I can’t focus on anything other than my mistake. Sometimes I get stuck there a bit.

Before Christmas during a little party my daughter and I threw for our first grade Bible class one of our students spilled his hot chocolate. I asked the boy side of the table to clear out so I could get it cleaned up. Then I poured the boy another cup. As the boys came back to the table the  one boy’s head was down. “I’m sorry, Miss Kysia,” came a tearful apology. (The most precious apology – EVER!)  My heart broke into pieces over his sweetness. “It’s alright, sweetie,” I said back to him. “We spill lots of stuff at our house. It’s all cleaned up now just like it never happened.” He sat down, but didn’t immediately go back to the game we were playing. He wouldn’t let himself move on.

Sometimes I too refuse to allow myself to move on. I get trapped in my feelings of embarrassment from mistakes made or I immediately begin trying to even more messily fix what I did. However, after apologies have been made and forgiveness extended, the guilt that lingers is often a snare not a conviction. That guilt has to be surrendered in order to go forward. 1 John 3:21 says when we come to God without feelings of guilt we approach him with confidence. Not only confidence, but bold confidence. A confidence that holds belief that God will take care of my needs; even ones I may have messed up. A confidence that comes from abiding in God’s grace.

Since grace is my word for this year, I mulled over what in the world guilt had to do with grace. Guilt keeps me from receiving God’s grace and enjoying the goodness of my creator’s gifts. Guilt is a grace-blocker because it causes me to take my focus off God and put it on my sin. It doesn’t stop God’s love from coming, just my ability to see and accept it. The best thing to do when guilt is around is ask for forgiveness for my sin, and trust that God has forgiven me.  If I trust that God loves me enough to forgive me, I should be able to move on.  That “moving on” part – is what grace is.  My sin, mistake and/or mess up is wiped away so life in Christ can continue.  While mercy is God graciously wiping away the mess, grace is being able to move on in  Christ enjoying God’s goodness.

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