Guilt vs. Grace

Guilt vs. Grace

“This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
—Isaiah 48:17

Most of us have the best of intentions. I was talking with someone the other day, we’ll call her Alice, who confessed to me that her personal Bible study time wasn’t what it used to be. She told me that she struggled to make time for it and that for the past few weeks, she hadn’t studied at all. She hung her head as she talked. I could sense the guilt in her voice.

Alice knew that she needed to make a change—she needed to start her studies again. It was a nagging feeling of guilt that reminded her.

Guilt can be a powerful tool of motivation or an instrument of defeat. It reminds us that something in our lives, perhaps something we’re doing (or not doing), is inconsistent with our values—with what we know to be right. Or, it can draw us into the depths of despair by reminding us of our inability to measure up. Guilt can be misapplied, sometimes by others, but most often by ourselves. But don’t let your “guilt” tell you that what you’ve done stops you from being who God calls you to be.

Time gets away from all of us. We’re busy. Our lives are messy. Sometimes, other things get in the way. I don’t want to minimize failing to spend time with God. It’s a big deal, and we should treat it as such. It’s happened in my own life, and it’s probably happened at some point in yours too.

Each and every one of us should rejoice that there’s hope beyond our good intentions! We should be glad that the most powerful being in the universe waits unquestioningly to welcome us back when we turn to Him. We should rejoice that His response is unconcerned with time—whether it’s been four weeks of missed devotions or forty years of intentional resistance to the call of His voice—when we turn back He bids us the same; “Welcome.”

“When sin struggles for the mastery in the heart, when guilt oppresses the soul and burdens the conscience, when unbelief clouds the mind, remember that Christ’s grace is sufficient to subdue sin and banish the darkness.”
—E.G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 250

No matter how far we feel we’ve moved away from God, He stands ready to reconcile our sin and receive us back. His watchful readiness is there to meet us where we are, but never leave us that way. That is love—that is grace. As you close out this week, I leave you with the same invitation my friend Bill Knott is known to use when closing his weekly note; “Stay in grace.”