Get off that guilt train!
I am not an addict. At least, I don’t think I am.
There are some things that bring me pleasure, though, and I’ll admit that I sometimes go to lengths I shouldn’t to enjoy them the way I want to, trading in God’s long-term best for temporary satisfaction.
Sometimes I realize my mistake in the moment, and sometimes I don’t, but I always end up regretting it.
God is faithful, you see, so His Holy Spirit doesn’t let me get by with a thing. When I step outside of God’s will for me, He pokes my heart. If I ignore Him, He gives it a squeeze. If I hold my hands over my ears and sing “la, la, la,” He takes more drastic measures, not to be mean, but kind.
God understands better than I do what the relational static my sin creates will do to my peace of mind sooner or later. Anticipating the fear and confusion I’ll feel as child of God no longer able to hear my Father clearly, He gives me the opportunity to confess and repent at the get-go, to turn around and get back on track before I wander farther and feel even more alone.
Trouble is, the Enemy is out there, too. Not poking, but jabbing. Not squeezing, but crushing. His weapon? Guilt.
“Well, here we are again!” he jeers. “What would they think if they saw what you just did, huh? What if they heard what you just said? What if they knew what you just thought? Some leader you are! You fake. You weakling. You selfish loser. And you thought God could use someone like you!”
At least that’s how it goes in my head.
I must admit, this sad little speech used to trip me up, slow me down, stall me out, but not anymore. One day, flinching under just such a tongue-lashing, I realized that while the choice I had made was admittedly wrong, as it failed to glorify God, or show people who He was and what He’d done for me in Jesus, the desire behind it wasn’t.
Full disclosure? I was guilty of gluttony, communicating through my actions that what God intended for me to have wasn’t sufficient and that my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, wasn’t worth stewarding well, but I didn’t really believe those things. In that moment, I just wanted to stop wanting.
Upon further reflection, I realized much of the sin in my life—anything that doesn’t match God’s will and character—was driven by similar desires.
I wanted to belong. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be free.
Wanting these things is not wrong, but going outside of God’s will to get them is.
God’s plan is perfect. It may not bring what we want in the moment, but it always yields what we need in the end.
Someday, those of us who have put our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for salvation from the consequences of sin and so been permanently adopted as His children will come fully into our inheritance, the Kingdom of God. On that day, we will not only see the purpose behind our struggle and what it accomplished, but we will also receive what is ours by re-birthright and be satisfied.
Surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will know we belong. Tears wiped away by the Father, we will be happy. No longer slaves to sin, we will be free. Finally made perfect, we will lack for nothing, and the longing that opened us up to temptation here on earth will be a distant memory.
Until then, we wait. Not passively, but actively.
Holding up this future hope as a shield against present temptation, we keep moving forward toward Christ-likeness by the power of His Holy Spirit, not so people will be impressed with us, but so they will see God for Who He really is—the One who holds His children close, the One Who restores them gently when they wander, the One Who meets their every need—and put their faith in Him, for our collective good and the Father’s well-deserved glory.