My mom has always, always encouraged us to be kind to EVERYONE. And in general, in the grand scope of life, I would say yes, I am and have been a very kind person. With the exception of a handful of times. It's those times that haunt my thoughts the most though. The guilt I feel is terrible. Because I am a loyal & trustworthy friend. I am a good listener. I'm a good confidant.
Since I am really not a mean person at the core, the times I have been seem to plague my mind like no other, as guilt takes over me.
As I think back to being a kid and the times I wasn't so nice I feel such annoyance with myself.
I find myself in these moments making excuses to justify my behavior. Or when that doesn't work, I try to minimize my actions as I attempt to make them out to not be a big deal. Or I use the excuse "it's not like I'm going to hell if I did that"... Anything to minimize the guilt.
"It's not like I'm going to hell"... Have you ever used or thought that line? We downplay our sin, we justify our less than mediocre behavior and actions, all for the sake of being able to minimize our guilty consciences. In justifying we tend to measure our sin up & down.
Picture holding a yard stick vertically...
We like to place our sin on levels or rate sin from 1-10. And since we rate sin in our own lives so we can justify our actions, we end up using it as a tool to judge the way others live their lives as well.
We might put Murder at the top as worst sin ever. Then we'll say cheating on a spouse is a little below that, it's bad but hey it's not murder. Well it murders marriage & a spouse's esteem, but they are still alive. Where murder, I mean, murder, now that's just bad. Maybe breaking the law, like burglary, maybe that's a little above adultery. Then based on our morals & values we'll have a couple things in between that as well. And the sin that is at the bottom of our measuring stick is the sin we tend to say "It's not like I'm going to hell because of that" to justify the "little sins". Maybe like lying, gossiping, or having a cold heart like I did with the person I wrote about above.
Bad, but not terrible sin
If we measure sin the way God does, we will all be on the same page.
We are all equal. We are all just as messed up as the next person.
WE. ALL. FALL. SHORT. OF. THE. GLORY. OF. GOD.
Man rates sin, God hates sin. Man justifies sin, Jesus exemplifies forgiveness for our sin.
Lying & Murder: God hates both. Pride & Arrogance: we might as well rob a bank. Gossip? God detests as much as adultery. Our sin is all the same in God's eyes.
"We all fall short of the glory of God" shouldn't be an excuse for us to blatantly sin, knowing "this is wrong", I should not do this and then do it anyway. God being a loving & forgiving God isn't an excuse to go ahead & continue sinning knowing we can just ask for forgiveness later.
Live & Learn, but don't justify. Don't make excuses so you can minimize the guilt.
Unless we are sociopaths, most of us experience feelings of guilt at the thought of our sin/wrongdoings. Our nature as humans is that of flawed beings. So when we strive for perfection but fail to reach it, that's a product of our human nature. Accept your shortcomings, but don't let them be a continuous excuse.
Accept that you are not perfect so you don't dwell and dwell over your every wrongdoing, but don't let our imperfection as human beings give you a license to live like the devil either.
We will sin. Daily. We will fall short. Continuously. But that cannot be an excuse to continue down a path of destruction. It cannot allow us to continue justifying our sin in an attempt to minimize our guilt. Justifying sin can result in us doing more of the same. Continuing down a path of "never learning from our mistakes" will keep us in a pattern of sin, guilt, sin, guilt, sin, guilt.
...There is NO condemnation in Christ. So we can stop the pattern of sin & guilt! God is SO loving & so forgiving! So whatever you have done, if there is something you have done and you continue to beat yourself up over and over and over, Stop it. Ask for forgiveness, leave it in God's hands, and don't take it back. Remember "I, even, I am He who not only forgives & blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, but also forgets"-Isaiah 43:25. This is one of my favorite verses of all time! It shows the love & nature of God so well!
I love the story of the woman who was caught in adultery & about to be stoned, because I think anyone with any kind of "past" can relate in more ways than we can count to what she must have felt when Jesus showed His love, mercy, grace & forgiveness! It summarizes God's love for us, God's lack of condemnation, the fact that we all sin & fall short. I've done some stupid things in my life. I've knowingly entered into sin & continued down paths of unrighteousness knowing full well what I was doing was wrong. I've reaped consequences for my actions. I've done terrible things that have caused me to feel such feelings of unworthiness, hatred towards myself, frustration, regret and lack of forgiveness.
John 8:1-11 Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. Sometimes I want to shout at the people from this story, "You freaken hypocrites! Seriously?!?!". Some of the men accusing her were most likely the ones she slept with!
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. Oh Jesus, what were you writing in that sand??? Was it the sin of everyone there? Was it the names of men she slept with right there? IN that powerful moment of Jesus' simple, but profound action His silence spoke louder than words. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. I picture Jesus having a field day with these hypocrites. I imagine Him moving over so they could see what He was writing. In that moment they saw the writing in the sand combined with the truth that we are all sinners, they left. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, Interesting the older ones left first, maybe because the older we are the more sin we'll have committed. until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin." I think she is the same woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair. An act of total servanthood & declaration of I'm yours! After experiencing God's grace & mercy you cannot help but not want to continue down the old path. I know that firsthand!
Forgiving ourselves can be one of the hardest tasks. Forgiveness & Justification are 2 different things! To justify is to excuse. Forgiveness is a commitment to pursue change. Forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion as we ourselves are forgiven and understand what that feels like. Forgiveness doesn't minimize or justify wrongs. We can forgive ourselves & others without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that justification will never bring. When we are forgiven we are allowed the chance to change. We are able to learn from our mistakes. Without forgiveness we are just holding grudges against others or ourselves and beating our minds with constant negativity