Let’s be real, we all accumulate baggage on our journeys. We load up with shortcomings, regrets, and sins. So how do we resolve these issues so that we can live free in the here and now?
Sins. Who hasn’t mistreated, neglected, or spoken unkindly about another? Who hasn’t disobeyed God’s will in some area? I’ve sinned in countless ways – coveting, lying, stealing, cheating, just to name a few. How about you? Guilt can plague us, especially when we’re sick, but there is relief. We can take on the righteousness of Another.
The great apostle Paul sought to be righteous, but surprisingly, not by doing good works. “Not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9). John tells us to simply admit and confess our sins and by faith receive our Advocate’s forgiveness and righteousness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Good riddance to guilt!
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Regrets. We may be confident of God’s forgiveness, but have we forgiven ourselves? We’ve all blown it; we’ve all done foolish things, but punishing ourselves accomplishes nothing. Jeremiah 31:34 says about His forgiveness, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” We should forget our sins too! “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13). Don’t hold yourself to a higher standard than God’s; that’s just pride.
Shortcomings. We’ve all been let down by people, but arguably the greatest let downs are self-delivered. Part of being emotionally and spiritually healthy, however, is to come to grips with our own limitations. After doctors told me I had days to live in 2003, I fell into a deep pit of disappointment. I was grieved I had not accomplished more in my 44 years. I had big goals and had fallen short.
Goals are good, but chastising yourself for missing them is bad. The root of this unfortunate tendency was my prideful perfectionism. Paul addresses this as well, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). I just need to be faithful to the goals of Jesus Christ.Your past, my past… let’s not dwell there. Forget about it. This is God’s liberating advice.
Lord, help us resolve these issues Your way!