I am my own personal court system. I am my own personal judge, jury and executioner. And trust me, I’m tough. I don’t go easy on myself. I lay on the burden of guilt with all the skill of a seasoned lawyer. My conscious doesn’t stand a chance.
I have lived with this guilty verdict my whole life. Every small infraction and major failure weighs on my mind like a heavy bolder. The burden I carry is entirely self-inflicted. I don’t require the testimony of a witness who will unveil my faulty actions or downright bad behavior; I take the stand in my mental court. I tell the truth, sometimes exaggerating the situation’s negative attributes. Why do I do this? I convict myself at the hint of even the slightest breach in my “law.”
I am my own harshest critique. This reality is weighing on my mental state. This court of one makes it hard for me to forgive myself for the mistakes I have made and am bound to continue to make. I am living as if I must carry out a sentence for my wrong doing by laying on the mental guilt. Is this God’s intended penalty for my sins? Does he want me to feel really lousy because I have made mistakes in the past, been rebellious, hurt those I love and been callous in my regard for others? Am I making those wrongs right by feeling bad about them for days, months and years following the occurrence?
God didn’t send his only Son to die on a cross so I could live under the dark cloud of guilt. Did he come so that I could live life with a free for all attitude, not caring about what results from my actions or how my decision impact the world around me? No, of course not. He came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. His whole life was a sacrifice to free me from the guilty sentence I deserve, allowing me to live life forgiven and whole, not broken and burdened.
When I carry around my own guilt, refusing to allow God to remove it from my shoulders, I am selfishly holding on to a weight that Jesus died to take away. It is a slap in his face. By refusing to accept the forgiveness for my mistakes I am telling God that his Son’s life isn’t enough. Are my sins so big, so horrible that Jesus’ life isn’t enough to erase them? Isn’t his death and resurrection enough to heal my soul and make me whole, even though I am a sinner? Jesus came to take the punishment for my sins. In my court of one I am guilty, but Jesus took the sentence. He stepped into my place so I wouldn’t have to suffer years behind bars, a lifetime in hell.
My sin du jour may be one that has hurt the people I love the most, or maybe it is a simple mistake that threw off my plans for the day – either way, Jesus came to forgive them both. He came to wipe clean my slate of both my biggest failures and smallest missteps. Have I truly and fully accepted his gift of forgiveness? Am I still holding onto my own guilt, shutting him out of hidden corners in my conscious? There are no places far enough back in my mind that I can hide them from God. He knows where I hold myself in judgment even when he has already told me I am forgiven. If I have confessed my sin and asked for Jesus gift of salvation to right my wrong and make me clean then I have no reason to carry around anything but a renewed and restored heart.
I no longer stand in judgment for my sin. Jesus took my burden. He carried my cross. Each day is a new day to show the world what restoration can look like in the flesh. It looks like a fallen sinner, forgiven and free because Jesus came to earth in the form a little baby to die for me. There is no room for guilt. Jesus has set me free.