Not too long ago, I was driving out for lunch with my wife, Wendy, and for some reason, every time she made a passing comment, I found myself snapping irritably at her or making an unnecessarily provocative remark. Have you had one of those days?
When I reflected on why I was so irritable, I realized it was because I was actually feeling guilty about a couple of matters from earlier in the day. I hadn’t necessarily done anything wrong, but I’d just allowed a little bit of guilt to creep into my heart and unconsciously allowed condemnation to come in.
My friend, when you are walking under a cloud of judgment, you can become a really unpleasant person to be around. Trust me, I know what I am talking about. Even if you are an author of books about God’s grace and forgiveness, there can be moments where condemnation creeps into your heart and you are completely oblivious to it.
I thank God that when Wendy asked me if there was a reason for my irritability, He gave me that moment of clarity where I could see the condition of my heart. And praise Jesus for a discerning and perceptive wife who didn’t take my remarks personally and knew something was not right with me. I remember telling her to let me know the next time she noticed such behavior from me, because it’s so easy to slip into condemnation and guilt.
When you’re under guilt and condemnation, all day long you can feel lousy, and all your answers have a sting in them. That’s not the abundant life, and you know what it all comes back to? It comes back to having a constant sense of God’s forgiveness over your life. Instead of taking in and harboring all the guilt, condemnation, and judgment, we need to stand secure in our perfect forgiveness in Jesus.
There is a redeeming quality to being forgiveness-conscious, as opposed to being conscious of your failings, sins, and mistakes. When you are forgiveness-conscious and see your failings on the cross of Jesus, you receive power to break out of your irritability, impatience, and short-temperedness with others. You receive power to break out of your eating disorders, addictions, and anxieties! When you realize that we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness and grace yet He gives it to us anyway, this revelation of His unmerited favor changes us from within. It dissolves the knots of anger and impatience in us that have built up over the years and frees us to enjoy God’s love and to show it to others!