By: Allie Joy Hudson
3 min. read
Conviction and Mercy
Sometimes I harbor some strange desire to hold onto my guilt and shame. I apologize over and over, whether this is to another person or to God. I continue to linger in the knowledge that I’ve failed, that I’ve hurt someone. In this moment, I feel like I don’t deserve forgiveness, and I almost don’t even want it. Have you ever been here before?
God did not create us to be enslaved to sin, and when we do fall victim to our lusts, they drain the life from us. In Psalm 32, David describes the physical weight that his sin had on him: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away / Through my groaning all day long. / For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; / My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.”
When we do something wrong, the Spirit convicts our hearts, and we can feel guilty for having hurt the heart of God. However, though it can be painful, this guidance of the Holy Spirit is a mercy that leads us back to God and causes us to look to Him instead of our sin.
So, conviction is a form of God’s kindness. As Paul writes, God’s kindness is what leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). But when we take God’s mercy and warp it into unending shame, this is destructive and far from God’s heart for His people.
Self-Loathing and Pride
I once heard it said that holding onto guilt and shame is a form of self-loathing. When we choose to dwell in the aftermath of our sin rather than looking to God and accepting His forgiveness, we distance ourselves both from Him and from other people that we have wronged.
We hurt God when we sin, and we hurt Him again when we don’t accept the forgiveness that Jesus died to ensure we would receive. Accepting forgiveness is part of Jesus’ design because it is an outcry of our need for Him. But when we remain in our shame, though, we are not being righteous by holding onto these feelings. Clinging to shame means rejecting the grace of God, thus elevating your own perspective and pride. C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, calls pride “spiritual cancer.” He writes, “Pride always means enmity — it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.”
The subtle, prideful rejection of Jesus’ grace and mercy stems from the enemy’s lie that we don’t really need forgiveness or that we are above having done something wrong. But we need the healing power of Jesus to come in and dismantle this lie so that we remain sensitive to His presence, guidance, and work in our lives. Being courageous enough to humble ourselves before the Father means that we must wrestle and come to terms with the fact that we have done wrong. Then, we must have the faith to believe that the mercy that Jesus provides us with is enough to cover our sins.
Let God’s Mercy Move You Forward
When I think about forgiveness, at least in person-to-person relationships, I often think the difficult part is being willing to extend it to someone else. But I’ve realized that in my own life, it can be very challenging for me to move to receive forgiveness. Maybe this is the case for you too.
I challenge you to reflect on the fact that grace, both the giving and receiving of it, brings so much beauty to a relationship because both parties must swallow their pride and intentionally reach out to one another. When you fall short and grant lust a victory, yes, feel the pain and consequence and conviction over sin, but let that propel you forward into the arms of Jesus and your loved ones. Graciously accept the kindness they are extending to you.
Psalm 32:1 says, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, / Whose sin is covered!” King David knew the weight of sin. But he also knew the absolute, freeing joy of forgiveness. You can know that freedom too! Rejoice in the knowledge that God sees you as a bearer of the righteousness of His perfect Son Jesus, and use that awareness to be bold and humble enough to accept His new mercies daily.
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Allie Joy Hudson is first and foremost a daughter of the King. She has worked with Proven for three years and serves as the Content Manager. Allie graduated from Liberty University with a B.A. in English and minors in Spanish and Psychology. She completed her Senior Honors Thesis on the presentation of postmodern sexuality in short fiction. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the viola, running, singing, and photography. Allie is passionate about her ever-growing C.S. Lewis collection, cultivating relationships, and proclaiming truth in the twisted arena of postmodern sexuality. Allie lives in Pennsylvania and is overjoyed to be married to the love of her life.