In college ministry we work with a lot of people that deal with shame and guilt.
Yesterday I taught on Mark 9:42-50 and talked about the seriousness of sin. I defined sin for in two ways:
to fall short of God’s perfect character
to do, say, or think something God wouldn’t do, say or think
We talked about how when we recognize our sin and how seriously it offends God, we can be certain we are in tune with the Holy Spirit. But, then we have to be careful. We will “deal” with our sin in one of two ways: (1) in shame and guilt or (2) with Holy Spirit conviction. I have a chapter on this in my next book coming out – more on that later.Shame/guilt and conviction are not equals. In fact they couldn’t be more opposite. They stem from different “sources” and lead us to two completely different places. I broke down the differences between these two in the following ways:Shame and Guilt:
Views sin through the lens of arrogance and perfectionism. In other words, we are ashamed of our sin because we feel as though we are “above” doing such things.
Counsels us to run from God because we sin. We feel as though we have to work certain things out before we go to God. We talked about how this is precisely the trap Adam and Eve fell into in the garden after they sinned.
Counsels us to harbor our sin. Shame and guilt hold us back from confessing our sin to God or other people. We don’t confess it to others because, viewing our sin through the lens of shame, we feel as though others will treat us different or hold it against us in some form.
Shame and guilt are real feelings that we all face to one degree or another. But it’s not of God. There is no grace in shame. No Jesus. No gospel. No Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us recognize our sin, but He will not use shame and guilt as a motivator to deal with it. Instead, He convicts us (John 16:8-11). Here’s how I broke down conviction:Conviction:
Views sin through the lens of humility and God’s grace.
Counsels us to run to God because we sin. When we are convicted, we recognize our limitless weakness to be perfect and look gratefully to God’s grace.
Counsels us to confess our sin to God and to others. We confess it to others as well for two reasons: (1) so that God can show us His grace through His people and (2) so that we experience the beauty of accountability.
Helping college students differentiate between these is vitally important. Shame/Guilt will cause us to shrink back from God, the people of God and the work of God. Conviction on the other hand will draw us to those things and allow us to freely engage in God’s mission.Could be some good discussion over a cup of coffee with student today