Stuff the Bible Doesn’t Say — Episode 3

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“For the shame of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age….” –Titus 2:11-12, TEV*

This post from Nancy Wilson and the exchange in the comments got me working on shooing away regretful thoughts. I’ve been practicing this pattern of praying about my sins:

1. I’m sorry.
2. Please forgive me and help me do better.
3. Thank You for Your forgiveness.

That third item is the new part. Previously my prayer would run something like this:

1. I’m sorry.
2. Please forgive me and help me do better.
3. Lather, rinse, repeat ad infinitum.

Shame over sin is a good thing when it drives us to repentance. It is a lousy thing when it denies forgiveness.

And here’s the big insight I’ve gotten in the past couple of days: Shame that denies forgiveness is powerless to help us resist the next temptation. Why do we give in to temptation in the first place? Because we deny the goodness of God; we think that the sin will make us happier than He can or will or wants to make us. Shame may seem pious — what, we ask, could be wrong with being really, really sorry for our sins for as long as possible? — but when it prevents us from experiencing forgiveness, it feeds more sin. In shoving aside forgiveness, we miss one of the most important reminders of God’s goodness, and so disarm ourselves for the next battle against temptation.

Grace, on the other hand, is a potent weapon. When a temptation comes with its message of “God is not good to you, so do or think or say this wicked thing in order to do good to yourself,” we can reply, “Um…DUH!…He just forgave me for doing or thinking or saying some other wicked thing, so I happen to know that He really is good to me, and I am grateful for that, so I’ll choose His way of doing or thinking or saying things this time around.”

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*TEV=Tragically Erroneous Version

3 responses »

  1. That’s the three things we pray for with the children when they are disciplined, and that daddy prayers for when he has repented to the children. Been a long time since I’ve been here, but where are your squiggly things?

  2. I “met” you over at Femina… we had a discussion about repenting of quick-to-anger words 😉 .. The thing I’m dealing with as I type is the very real grief that all that *yuck* is still in me~ without letting it turn into presumptuous regret. Presumption that I am “better” than that~I’ve been immersing myself in His forgiveness and washing, cleansing of the Word, but I am sick that my heart is still so stony. *Sigh*

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