“To err is human, to forgive is divine”Alexander Pope, An Essay On Criticism
Do your mistakes haunt you, repeating like unwanted reruns in your mind? I used to punishingly replay these mistakes in my mind, hoping that would teach me a lesson. It only made me feel bad about myself. God doesn’t change us through condemnation. This kind of correction never works in the long term. We might get temporary results that way, but it eventually backfires by setting us into a futile circle of self-punishment. Human beings judge others and ourselves with the clouded vision through our issues and limitations. We cannot base our feelings on another human being’s thoughts about us and even our thoughts. All humans make mistakes; we misunderstand, misinterpret, miss the mark in so many ways; we are flawed. The only one qualified to judge and help set us free from the cycle of sin is a God who has no sin.
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy [the one God who has the absolute power of life and death]; but who are you to [hypocritically or self-righteously] pass judgment on your neighbor?James 4:12
When we are unnecessarily hard on ourselves for mistakes we make, we put ourselves in a trap. We are taking control of trying to make ourselves righteous. If we’ve lived with the weight of guilt for a long time, we get used to it. Many people can’t feel right unless they feel wrong. It comes from many places; we may have even been manipulated by guilt in an abusive situation. We could have been sensitive children whose negative self-thoughts were never expressed or corrected. When we live with long-term self-condemning thoughts, we believe them to be true. We need to break free from the cycle of sin.
23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!Romans 7:23-25
The Culprit of Guilt
Guilt is one of the most powerful emotions on the planet. We are very easy to manipulate with guilt. It can be the culprit of self-harming thoughts and actions for thousands of years. The most destructive and effective torture is cyclical. We feel condemned and guilty, and we harm ourselves trying to forget. Many use drugs, alcohol, food, relationships idolatry, and it temporarily works, and when we get perspective, we feel guilty and need to forget. We try, and we fail; we feel bad and fall again. How can we break the cycle?
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.Romans 6:20-21
Adam and Eve brought sin into the human race, but God provided the cure within the sacrifice of his righteous Son. It’s the only way to obtain forgiveness and the true power of freedom from our guilt, sin, and self-punishing for not feeling good enough. God knows we will make mistakes and sin and do things wrong, and he alone holds the cure. He kindly and patiently waits to heal and restore us from it all. He gives us peace for our torment, joy for our heaviness, and forgiveness for our sins, and comfort for our sadness. We only need to seek Him for the cure.