Sometimes I wonder how I can go from being in such great place with God — feeling peaceful, patient, and kind — and all of a sudden something happens that sends me into an orbit of aggravation!
The other day I was working from home. Alone. The house was quiet, and I was feeling all kinds of productive. That afternoon marked the final stretch of a big project, and I was so looking forward to a family dinner and game night. Life was peachy.
Then my kids got home from Grandma’s, and one of them did something that was not-so-peachy!
A few minutes later, another one did not do something I asked him to do.
And I lost all my peace and patience right there in the middle of my kitchen.
Later that night, the soundtrack of my words replayed in my head as guilt tried to convince me I had permanently damaged my kids’ emotional well-being. Then shame shook its finger in my face and told me I was the worst mom on earth.
I was about to agree with both of them when I remembered something a pastor once taught about the difference between conviction and condemnation.
He explained that condemnation sweeps across our thoughts with generalized statements: You’re such a failure. You’re so hypocritical. You can never be counted on!
That is the accuser. His tone is condemning, questioning, and confusing. His accusations lead to guilt and shame.
In contrast, the Holy Spirit’s conviction will be specific. He will reveal a sinful action or attitude along with instruction on what needs to be done to right our wrong, whether it’s restoring a relationship or returning something that isn’t ours. The Holy Spirit will give us the steps we need to take to change our attitude or behavior.
Instead of an accusing lie: “You’re such a failure!” the Holy Spirit might say, “You were really critical the way you talked to So-and-so. You need to say you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness. Then say something to build them up instead of tearing them down.”
Instead of a condemning label: “You’re so hypocritical!” The Holy Spirit might say, “You judge others for gossiping, but you’re doing the same thing when you talk about your neighbor at work. Apologize for what you said today, and share a few things that are positive about her.”
Instead of shaming words: “You can never be counted on!” The Holy Spirit might say, “You didn’t keep your promise to go visit your mom. Call her to say you’re sorry, and ask her out to lunch this weekend.” *
Satan condemns us to make us feel guilty, but God convicts us to lead our hearts to repentance.
God uses conviction to draw us out of destructive behavior that hinders our relationship with Him and others, and to lead us away from a condemning place of sin so that we can live in the freedom of His forgiveness and grace.
So the next time we blow it, or lose our peace and patience right there in the middle of our kitchen, or office, or 5 o’clock traffic, let’s ask God to help us refute the accusing lies of condemnation and follow His lead toward restoration.