For the sake of our discussion we have defined “guilt” as being sorry for wrong actions and “shame” as being sorry for who you are. Guilt can have a positive growth result. Shame can cause us to enter a downward spiral of hopelessness.
We were also reminded that we are made in the image of God with abilities, gifts, a purpose and value. In Christ we have a new heart, mind and life. Also, Jesus brings us into the presence of God the Father for fellowship and worship and in the intimate environment of that encounter there can be no shame, because there is no room for shame in a loving relationship.
This week we move on to dealing with guilt and shame. There is power in confession and forgiveness. When we confess wrong doing we unburden ourselves. The transgression is removed and that’s a good thing. But confession is only part of the equation – the only part we can control. Forgiveness takes the wrongdoing and removes it from the relationship. If there is no forgiveness we are left to wonder whether or not the wrong we committed is lurking around the next corner. However, we are dependent on the harmed party to forgive us and that is out of our control.
There is another problem of forgiveness. We have to believe it is real and genuinely offered. Do we trust that the person really meant it when they forgave us? An even bigger question is whether or not we believe God really forgives ALL our sins. We sometimes think to ourselves, “I could never forgive THAT.” We then assume that other people, and even God, think the same way. This keeps us burdened with guilt and can cause shame because now I’m not just someone who did something wrong, I’m a bad person not worthy of forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sine God is faithful and just to forgive our sin AND to cleanse us for ALL unrighteousness.
In both Psalm 40 & 51 we see a desire for forgiveness, compassion and mercy, but the greatest part of these prayers is that the forgiveness comes not from hard work but by confession and a desire to rebuild the relationship. The Psalmist specifically says that God does not desire sacrifice (effort on our part), in other words, we can’t work for he forgiveness – it is freely offered out of love.
Pulling this together means that we need to accept our intrinsic value. We are important to God, others and hopefully ourselves simply because we are here. We are made and can live in the image of God. You are valued and you can be forgiven. You can live a life that’s clean and free.
A Thought Provoker: God Loves Barabbas – Judah Smith