Scripture tells us we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. As Christians, many times we think we must be perfect or do perfect. So does the world. How many times has a Christian (maybe even you) made a mistake and the first thing a non-believer says is how we’re not acting very “Christian”. Heck, even the Church has been known to shame people for their mistakes. That doesn’t make getting over guilt any easier does it?
These four tips can help in this process as you look to move past your guilt and find freedom in God’s grace.
1. Understand that no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes
Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk the earth. While we should always strive to be like Jesus, the fact of the matter is that we’re going to fall short. Every time. When we make a mistake, it’s important to remember God doesn’t want us to feel guilty, He wants us to be convicted. There’s a difference. Guilt is Satan’s way of telling us that we are bad and there’s nothing we can ever do to become better. Conviction tells us what we did was bad but God wants to make it right and He wants us to reconcile with Him. Consider what Paul tells the church in Corinth:
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10
We’ve made repentance to be a scary word. In reality, repentance is simply “turning away” from our mistake. When we confess our sins and then choose to repent, we’re telling God that we’re sorry, and we’re ready to move on. This “turning away” is what God calls each of us to do when we make a mistake. Again, He isn’t looking to beat us down or make us feel like we don’t deserve His forgiveness. He’s simply calling us higher, and telling us to follow Him. Repentance tells God we’re going to forget about the past, and He can too.
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,” – Acts 3:19
3. Be quick to forgive others
Of course, part of what we have to do when getting over guilt is forgiving ourselves. But we also must forgive those who have wronged us. If your guilt is coming from a place of hurting others, or saying something you wish you hadn’t said, it’s important to forgive them for their part in the situation. Forgiveness is simply cancelling the debt.
Cancelling this debt isn’t telling the other person that what they did was okay, or that they’re allowed to hurt you again. It’s simply saying that you’re no longer going to hold anger or hate in your heart against them. Release them to the Savior. By doing so, you’re also releasing yourself:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:14-15
4. Thank God for His grace and forgiveness
God wants us to have a cheerful heart and thankful spirit. He’s calling us to live in peace. Remember, as you’re walking through this difficult time, keep your eyes focused on Him. Consider the ways He’s already working in your favor. Think about how this situation can help you to grow. Be thankful for the opportunity to receive His mercy and grace, even when you fall short. Remember that no matter what we’ve done or who we’ve hurt, God is always ready to reconcile and forgive:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5
Getting over guilt doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but the effects can have a lasting effects if we don’t deal with it in the way God instructs us. Hanging on to guilt, pain, anger, regret and resentment can lead to depression, anxiety, continued distance in our relationships, and in our relationship with God.
Guilt doesn’t have to hold you back and it doesn’t have to continue ruling your life. There is hope and freedom.