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No more self-condemnation

All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God... God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So... we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers. (I John 4:15-21)

Fear of judgment - what might that look like? Constantly trying to 'do' better, but never really trusting in the work of Christ in your life. Thinking you must 'clean up your act' in order to approach the throne of God. As I said yesterday, you don't wash up before you take a shower - you let the shower do that work! Do you declare Jesus to be the Son of God, trust in his love for you as a sinner? This is the first step toward no longer 'fearing' judgment. Have you confessed your sins to him, acknowledging that you are indeed a sinner, in need of forgiveness? If so, you are on the path of right-living. Does that mean you will never make any mistakes again? Not hardly! We are human, facing many trials and temptations, and we will mess up on occasion.

The good news is that when we do, we have a path back through confession and what we call 'repentance' (turning away from that sin and turning toward God's help to overcome it). Don't live in fear of judgment just because you 'mess up' from time to time - go to God with it and let him wash you clean. Then move on - don't belabor the fact that you messed up. That only serves to bring you under the burden of self-condemnation and shame. These two don't belong in the life of a forgiven child of God. 

Maybe this is how we learn to love each other in this world - forgiving as God so graciously and lovingly forgives us each time we mess up. This world might be a better place if God's love was practiced a bit more, don't you think? Love might just begin with the act of forgiving someone who has wronged you. It could begin because you have wronged another, and they lovingly restore you with open arms. Either way, we are making a good start at being ambassadors of God's love in a hurting and messed up world. 

We might find the path of forgiveness hard to accept because we have lived for so long under the condemnation of our misdeeds. I have been guilty of doing that on occasion - remembering all the things I did wrong and how many people were likely hurt by my misdeeds. Condemnation of this sort is 'self-made' - it is not God inflicted. God doesn't leave us under a load of guilt and shame - his grace unburdens us from both, but we have to let go of the burden in order to be free of it. We might just help another see the immenseness of God's love when they see that transformation occur within our lives! Just sayin!


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