This has been one of those weeks where I’ve felt incredibly human. Ever have those times where everything you’ve bottled up inside for weeks comes out in one ugly moment? I did, and lets just say it wasn’t my best day.
Whenever this happens, I usually beat myself up quite a bit. It honestly bugs me way more when I react poorly towards someone than when someone else hurts me. It eats me up inside and I find it harder to forgive myself than to forgive others. While being angry at myself may appear more noble in theory than the alternative, I’ve come to realize that this is actually a form of self-condemnation.
Condemnation is the act of unfavorable or adverse judgement and/or a statement or expression of very strong and definite criticism or disapproval.
In Scripture we see Paul wrote to the Roman Church that condemnation is no longer the reality for those who believe in Jesus.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”- Romans 8:1
However, I think many of us willingly self-condemn ourselves simply by the way we think of ourselves or respond to our imperfections. When I look back at the definition of condemnation, and I compare it with the way I see myself…I can see the connection. There are days I find it really hard to see myself as worth being proud of. I tend to see my flaws and failures before I can see what God sees and when I make mistakes those things are magnified even more.
Self-condemnation is an act of judgement that turns into a form of self-hatred. I think there is a lie that some of us believe that self-condemnation is a posture of humility; when really it’s just plain insecurity. It robs us from so much more than it gives us. It doesn’t build us up in anyway and it keeps us hiding in the shadows of shame where we can see the light of Jesus but we can’t experience the warmth, love and life-giving properties of it until we finally step into it.
A good friend of mine reminded me this week that repentance is where we “turn and return”, meaning we turn away from our sin and return to our Heavenly Father.
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly grief produces repentance. It’s not wrong to feel bad about something we did. That’s conviction. It’s how the Holy Spirit points out the things in our lives that aren’t in alignment with the kingdom of God. However, it’s always supposed to bring us to a place of repentance which is meant to draw us back into the arms of our Savior. It’s always a process of relational reconciliation, not just a confession or act. In it we see the goodness of our Heavenly Father who accomplished what we in our humanness could not to do just so we could be so close to Him. But worldly grief, or self-condemnation produces death, because holding on to remorse and regret only creates distance between us and God who is life.
“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”- 1 John 2:28
Continued abidance in God helps us avoid falling into shame. While condemnation destroys intimacy. It creates distance, regardless of who it’s coming from. I once had a friend who did something that could have really hurt me, and even though I forgave them pretty quickly they had a hard time letting it go. They were so consumed with their wrongdoing it created distance between us because they felt unworthy of our friendship. They feared that I saw them differently and it was easier to turn away from me to ignore the shame they felt. It broke my heart to see them carry something that I had already forgotten about. That they couldn’t believe I didn’t see them for what they did to me but for who they were and I so badly wanted them to forget about it so we could just continue to enjoy one another’s company again. I missed our friendship and that mattered far more to me than anything they did.
God used this picture to remind me it’s the same with Him. When we ask for forgiveness, it’s done. It’s finished. He forgets about it. He doesn’t see it anymore. He’s not disappointed in us. He doesn’t disprove of us and He isn’t criticizing us for past actions.
It breaks His heart when we distance ourselves from the very love that is meant to restore us. His heart yearns so much for us that Jesus didn’t just defeat death for us so we could be sinless, but so we could be perfectly reconciled in an intimate relationship with himself where we could experience the fullness of perfect love. If God, who is Holy and perfect in every way doesn’t condemn us, then who are we to condemn ourselves?
So, if you are like me and it’s really easy to fall into a pattern of self-condemnation. I just want to encourage you with the same truths I needed to hear this week.
There is no condemnation in God’s heart towards you. God is completely in love with you. His heart yearns for you every minute of every day. He’s not angry with you. He is so proud of you. You are blameless, beautiful, precious and holy in His sight. Just like He has forgiven your wrongs already, He wants you to forgive yourself. Lay down the disappointment, the anger and the frustration you may have been holding towards yourself and simply enjoy His heart for you today. He alone determines who is worthy of His love, and He has already decided you are worthy of it. His arms are open wide, ready to embrace you, ready to speak over you the truth of who you are and ready to lift away the load of shame that is not your inheritance as a child of God.
You are His dearly beloved one.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” – Ephesians 1:3-10