Breaking Free of the Guilt-Shame Trap
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
The judge looked down from his bench and asked, “Are you this boy’s grandparents?”
“Yes, your Honor, we are” came the reply.
“I grant you custody of your grandchild.” Looking down at the grandmother, he added, “Try to do a better job this time.”
Guilt, shame . . . it’s a regular struggle when you are raising your grandchildren because you have a wayward child. Such guilt and shame come from external sources such as this judge or friends or family, but it often is a message we tell ourselves because we know our imperfections.
But what is the truth? Where do these feelings of shame and guilt come from? Let’s stop for a moment and consider what is true. First of all, there are no perfect parents, and even if there were, every child has to make his or her own decisions and choices in life. They choose what they will believe and how they will act. Don’t forget, God, who IS the perfect parent, has nothing but wayward children.
So, what does God say about this guilt-shame problem we have? Plenty. Let’s consider three essential truths about it from God’s Word.
1. You are not responsible for the sins of your children (Ezekiel 18:20). God says the one who sins is the one who will be held accountable. The child won’t share the guilt of the parent and vice versa. You are not responsible for the choices your child(ren) make, but you are responsible for the way you influence them. We are all responsible for our own choices . . . including our children.
2. Shame and condemnation are the work of the Accuser (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is always prowling about to see who he can devour, and one of his prime targets is the family. Obviously, there is shame we ought to bear—our own sins against others and God. We ought to feel the shame of our sin and allow it to lead us to the Cross of grace, forgiveness, and mercy.
However, assuming the shame imposed upon us by others—and not God—will lead us to self-condemnation and keep us from understanding who we are in Christ.
3. Christ’s sufficiency is the whole point of the Gospel (Romans 8:1). “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is why the gospel is good news. God’s grace is sufficient for all our sin and shame. Do you believe that?
Julie H. Johnston penned this truth in this well-known hymn:
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured;
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Prayer: Lord, help me grasp the magnitude of your grace that has taken away my shame and guilt, and help me live in the sufficiency of your grace today.