We can be pretty hard on ourselves. Failure is inevitable and we must persevere through our mistakes in order to reach the goal: Fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives.
One of the last things we need do, when we are aiming to live in the fullness of God, is to put ourselves down, condemning ourselves for our short-comings.
Often self-condemnation is seen as a form of pride. That may be. And pride comes before a fall. So, better to be aware of our pride. But pride isn’t always the reason behind our being overly-self critical. Some of us may have heard criticism from a tender age and so we automatically hear it in our heads as adults.
Recently, I received a letter from someone who doesn’t think well of me. In reading the opening sentence of the letter, I realized I was about to receive a series of criticism. There would be grains of truth in some of the accusations, because I’m not perfect.
Then I realized, while my imperfections do not excuse my past mistakes, neither is the accuser perfect. I had a EUREKA moment. I realized that I don’t have to feel shame for being imperfect and nor do I have to defend myself, but rather I can accept the imperfections both of myself and of the other person. That’s a move of God’s grace within me.
Please don’t confuse my meaning. I’m not saying we ignore our failings or excuse them. Being aware of our faults and wanting to become better people is healthy; it’s part of the process of maturity. But that is not the same as living in condemnation from ourselves or from others, because we are not perfect.
As an aside, I’d also say, the accuser (the devil) loves to make us think about our shortcomings, and he’ll use others to do it. But let’s remember that the other person doing the accusing is also flawed. Part of their flawed nature may well include the skewed vision they have of you.
“There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) If you are experiencing condemnation from within or from another, it is not of the Lord. We are responsible to take on board our faults and repent, learn and grow. But condemnation is a sign of criticism that is, at least, exaggerated and purposed to oppress.
Overcoming condemnation will teach you to know the difference between valid complaint and invalid accusation. And it will enable you to move from darkness to light, in the pursuit of fulfilling God’s Call on your life.