"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17 (NIV)
Sometimes I wonder how I can go from being in such a good place with God ... feeling peaceful, loving and patient ... then something happens that sends me into an orbit of aggravation!
It happened just the other day. Things were going well. I'd had a lovely afternoon working from home, alone. Life was peachy.
Then school got out and my kids came home. Within 15 minutes, one of my boys did something and said something that was not so peachy. Then he did NOT do something I asked him to do, and let's just say ... I lost all my peace and patience right there in the middle of my kitchen.
I was not happy at all. And I told my precious boy in a not-so-nice kind of way. Then, I felt guilty and like the worst mom on the planet!
For a few minutes, I was pretty sure that was exactly how God wanted me to feel. But before I convinced myself I was the worst mom who had no business serving in ministry, I remembered a pastor sharing about the difference between conviction and condemnation.
He explained that condemnation sweeps across our thoughts with generalized statements such as: You're such a failure. You're so hypocritical. You can never be counted on. That is the accuser. His tone is condemning, questioning and confusing. His accusations lead to guilt and shame.
In contrast, the Holy Spirit's conviction will be specific. He will reveal a sinful action or attitude and instruct us with a solution for what we need to do to right the wrong, such as restoring a broken relationship or returning something that isn't ours. He'll give us steps we need to take to change our behaviors or attitudes.
Instead of the lie: "You're such a failure as a [wife, mom, daughter, friend]," the Holy Spirit might say, "You were really critical the way you talked to So-and-so. You need to say you're sorry and ask for forgiveness. Then say something to build them up instead of tearing them down."
Instead of the accusing label: "You're so hypocritical!" The Holy Spirit might say, "You judge others for gossiping, but you're doing the same thing when you talk about your neighbor at work. Apologize for what you said today, and share a few things that are positive about her."
Instead of shaming words: "You can never be counted on!" The Holy Spirit might say, "You didn't keep your promise to go visit your mom. Call her to say you're sorry, and ask her out to lunch this weekend."
Satan condemns us accusingly, to make us feel guilty. God convicts us lovingly, to lead our hearts to repentance.
Conviction draws us away from destructive behavior that hinders our relationship with God and others. Jesus' goal is to bring us out of a condemning place of sin and usher us into the freedom of forgiveness with the assurance of His love.
The next time we blow it, or lose our peace and patience right there in the middle of the kitchen or the office or 5 o'clock traffic, let's guard our hearts from condemnation and instead, listen only to God's conviction.
Then let's follow His lead toward restoration as we live in the security of today's truth: Jesus didn't come into the world — or into our lives — to condemn us, but to rescue us with His redeeming grace.
Lord, sometimes condemning thoughts become so familiar I don't realize how they contradict Your Word and Your ways. Please give me discernment to recognize the difference between conviction and condemnation, and courage to replace my mindset with Yours. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Condemnation focuses on the problem. Conviction offers a solution. Write down the most frequent shaming, blaming or accusing thoughts you have that make you feel condemned.
Then, using the three contrasting examples Renee shared above, replace condemning statements with convicting, yet loving, truths the Holy Spirit might say. Be sure to offer yourself forgiveness plus a solution that reflects God's goal of restoration and His tone of grace.
© 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105