Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, “It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles.
Acts of the Apostles 13:46 NLT
Do you ever judge yourself as unworthy?
I surely do.
I get focused on the past.
All the mistakes I’ve made.
All the sins I’ve committed.
All the things I wish I was doing better now.
I am so hard on myself.
I wish I could turn off the self-condemning thoughts when they come, but I find it almost impossible to do at times.
Last week in a conversation with my therapist, she encouraged me to take the time to pray for God to take away the spirit of condemnation when it comes. I’ve made more of an effort to do this this week. Yesterday, as I prayed I noticed that it helped.
The problem with condemning thoughts is they sneak up on me. It’s not like I intentionally decide to believe a lie. It just happens, because the feelings are so overwhelming associated with the lies are so big that it feels like it must be true. I believe this is why we need one another to constantly redirect our thinking to what is true. It’s also why we need communion to remind ourselves that Jesus has forgiven all.
A male nurse at work has a freedom that I wish I had. He just says what he thinks all the time, even if he probably should not sometimes. Yesterday, he made the statement that I was the nicest person at work. I thought, what is he crazy? If he really knew me he wouldn’t say such things. Later, he blurted out something about someone else that wasn’t as kind, but nonetheless true. I looked at him like I couldn’t believe he said that. He said, “My Daddy taught me when all is said and done, the truth will always stand.” I thought about what he said for a moment and realized he was right.
But sometimes the truth is hard to find, especially when the lies bombard our minds in a cacophony of screaming accusations.
Sometimes truth is hidden behind a mountain of shame.
I have realized lately that one of the most difficult things for me to do is to ask for help.
I’ve done it on my own for so long, that it feels normal.
As long as I don’t ask for help, I don’t have to worry about someone else hurting me.
I may act kind, together, and ok, but I don’t feel that way at all.
The truth is, I need help, because most of the time I’m my own worst enemy.
A cacophony of voices shouted at Jesus, too.
The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.
Matthew 27:39-44 NLT
When we struggle with condemnation, it’s important to remind ourselves that Jesus did, too.
We do not suffer alone.
When all is said and done the truth will stand.
I am His child.
Condemnation will not stop happening until I breathe my last breath.
The Christian life is not easy.
We follow in His steps.
In the world we will have tribulation.
Shame will come.
But in Jesus we have peace.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
Hebrews 12:1-2, 11 NLT