How to stop beating yourself up and move forward

seeking freedom from sin and shame: a 7-day devotional

Background Reading

Realizing we’ve sinned should cause us grief. There’s nothing fun about knowing you’ve hurt someone you love, and that sorrow only intensifies when the one you hurt is God. 

The good news for every Christian is that we have a way out of our grief. Once we’ve confessed our sin to Jesus and turned away from the cause, it’s time to stop grieving as well. We may not feel forgiven immediately, but we are. Jesus paid for our sin once and for all.  

We can’t move forward if we’re still beating ourselves up about the past. That’s the same lesson God’s people had to learn in Nehemiah 8:1-12. They were weeping and grieving over how far they had walked away from God. Then Ezra, a teacher of the law, and Nehemiah, the governor, said, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength … Be still, for this is a holy day.”

Nehemiah and Ezra weren’t giving the people permission to sin. Instead, they were redirecting the people's attention: Stop focusing on how bad we are and start focusing on how great God is.

No amount of grieving could undo the past. The people’s hearts were repentant, and it was time to move on. It's prideful to think we can earn our way back into God’s grace. To accept His undeserved forgiveness is faithful.

When we make a bigger deal out of what we did than what Jesus did for us, we’ll spend our lives burdened by fear and shame. When we trust that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough, we receive abundant and everlasting grace. 

To make the joy of the Lord our strength is to choose to believe that, in spite of it all, He really does love and forgive us. To operate in His strength is to choose His grace over our shame.

Reflect:

  • What’s one way you have experienced God’s grace?

  • What’s one step you can take to see God’s goodness rather than your own flaws and errors?

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