Hey everybody! James here. You are still fully surrendered like you were this summer, right? You’re still in the word and prayer all the time, and you’re in authentic community right? Things are going almost perfectly, and you are at the top of your spiritual game right? (Cynical laugh) If you are like most of us, the answer to one or all of these is “no.”
Somewhere along the way we all “miss the bar” spiritually, emotionally, socially, and so on. We all fail. We all hurt others, and we all hurt ourselves. I am convinced that the biggest danger to Christians today is not temptation but the guilt and shame that come from sin. All too often, we will mess up. We repent, turning towards Christ. But for some reason we cannot seem to forgive ourselves as Christ has forgiven us. This guilt and shame perpetuates more fear, more hiding, and more sin. There are so many Christians who let their guilt and shame turn into self-hatred, and not grasping God’s grace fully, allow their self-hatred to fester and grow. I have been one of them without even realizing it. Does this ring a bell to you? If so, grab your bible and lean into God’s truth with me:
- We are commanded to view ourselves accurately. First and foremost, in Romans 12:3 we are told, “do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” One thing The Lord has shown me recently is I have a tendency to view myself as unworthy, and so I overcompensate by acting prideful. Whether we think we are the coolest thing since sliced cheese, or we are always downing ourselves, neither reflects the way Christ sees us; both can be dangerous to our spiritual, emotional health.
- Your Self-Hatred Affects Others. There is so much I could say about this, but all I will note is this: you will never be the person God has created you to be, and you will never love other people the way God has called you to unless you love yourself. In other words, the “golden rule” of loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31) cannot be followed well if you treat yourself like garbage.
- Holding Resentment Towards Yourself is a Vicious Cycle. I messed up, therefore I feel bad. I feel bad, therefore I need to do something to feel better. I do what makes me feel better (sin). I feel worse than I did before.It is a horrible pattern that most of us are not aware of when it happens. On the flip side, it is when we finally acknowledge the bitterness we have and surrender it to Christ (Romans 12:1) that we allow Christ to do the healing in us he promised.
So do yourself a favor and forgive your worst enemy- you! Talk to a trusted friend, a pastor or a mentor. Break the sin-cycle you are trapped in and let Jesus shine through you!
Peace and Grace to you,