How to Overcome Guilt and Experience the Joy of Your Meaningful Life
This article was first seen on MichaelCSherrard.com. Written by Michael Sherrard.
Our sin has condemned us, and rightly so. We have hurt others, and worse, we have sinned against God. We have committed “cosmic treason” as R.C. Sproul once said. We should feel the full weight of our actions. But in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness he alone offers, that condemnation is no more (Rom. 8:1). He forgives us because of his grace, and he renews us such that we can carry out the good works he has prepared for us. We are his workmanship (Eph. 2:8–10). What a thought.
The simple idea here that you may be struggling to believe is that even though you have done terrible things, you are still loved. You are still valuable. You still have work to do that God has prepared for you. You are not unworthy of the riches of God’s grace any more than the rest of us. Yes, you will feel bad for what you have done. That’s life. But your feelings do not condemn you. Draw near to Jesus, for there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:31–39; Heb. 4:16). Remind your feelings of that truth and live in the freedom that was bought for you with the blood of Jesus Christ.
You may not feel valuable, but you objectively are. That’s way better than merely feeling valuable. Of course, feeling worthwhile is a gift, but that feeling will come and go over the course of your life. And when it goes, know that your value has not left with it. Challenge your feelings with true reality, and enjoy the gift of peace that comes with embracing what you are and what you are worth.
This reality is the great equalizer for those who struggle with pride and despair. Some of us look at all we have done and become arrogant and proud. Some of us look at the lack of what we have done and become anxious and depressed. All of us need to look to the Lord and at what has made us all equally valuable. We are all made in the image of God and are loved by him. This reality should bring humility to the proud and hope to the broken.
At times in my life, I’ve been on both sides of this. I have known arrogance, and I have known the anxiety that comes from thinking my life isn’t worth much. But being intrinsically valuable means that we never have to worry about creating a life of value. Our anxiety and arrogance are misplaced.
It is right to hate sin, but that is where our hate must remain. Self-hatred is not holy. Sinners need only to repent and be cleansed of their sin. They do not need to spend the rest of their life minimizing their significance. That’s false humility and one of the ways pride shows up in our lives. Instead, fight to live in the joyful reality of being a forgiven image bearer that has the honour of glorifying God in all you do.
This is an adapted expert from my new book Why You Matter: How Your Quest for Meaning is Meaningless without God.