Freedom from Guilt and Shame

Jessie KnightDevotional

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When I was about 7 years old I was playing my new harmonica in the school yard. The teacher assigned to yard duty that day saw me playing it and said, “Oh, I see you play the harmonica!” Being a bit of a show-off and wanting to impress him I said, “Yes, I take lessons, I’m really good.” I hadn’t really thought this claim through and so I was caught off guard when the teacher responded with “Oh yes? Play me a song then.”

I froze. I didn’t actually take lessons. I didn’t even know a single song to fake the lie. The technical word here was BUSTED. I fumbled around saying something like, “Oh…I forgot my music at home…I need my notes…so I can’t play it right now.” But the teacher’s raised eyebrow told me that he wasn’t buying it. “Suuure,” he said before moving on.

He knew. He knew that I had lied. And I felt really ashamed and guilty about that. For the next couple years, I avoided this teacher as much as possible. If I saw him in the halls I would turn the other way or look at the floor. He was also the music teacher so when he came to my class to lead us in song time I would hide at the back of the group, hoping that he wouldn’t notice me. He must think I’m a bad kid. When he looks at me he will remember what I did.

For many of us, this has been our relationship with God. Because of something we did, something we didn’t do, something we feel regret, shame and guilt over. God must be angry with me. He must be so disappointed with me.

In our shame, we fear to approach him. We distance ourselves from him and allow our guilt to affect our relationship with him. We live with an uncertainty, not knowing where we stand, and this separates us from the one person who can bring us peace.

God doesn’t want us to live in guilt and shame anymore. In fact, he tells us that we should approach him with confidence, so that he can help us!

Hear the truth of the scriptures and be set free:

Psalm 103:8-12 The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens are above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 2:1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest [mediator/advocate] who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Eventually that man became my primary classroom teacher. Even on the first day I was nervous to go into his classroom. Nervous that he would remember what I had done. But he greeted me with warmth and kindness. If he did remember, he was gracious and never brought it up. He became one of my favourite teachers.

So may you live knowing that you have been forgiven. May you know that there is nothing you could ever do that would make God stop loving you. May you approach the throne of grace with confidence to receive mercy and strength from the only one who is truly righteous. And may your whole life be a response to that kind of love and grace.

– Pastor Jessie Knight