Well, isn't the title of this post just one to get your attention? I guess I won't be surprised if nobody reads this! Still God has it on my heart to share, so I'll put it out there and ask Him to use it.
Growing up I loved basketball and I can vividly remember my coach addressing us after one specific loss. It was a game we could have and really should have won; when the final buzzer sounded we were disappointed and it showed. He didn't yell and scream, but he did make this statement - "When you lose, you should feel bad."
At first I don't think I appreciated those words, but as I reflect they make sense and last night after 20 years they came back to me...only this time there was no game involved.
I've been working through Wendy Blight's new Bible study and this week our focus was on living so that. Our memory verse is Matthew 5:14a,16 - “You are the light of the world. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
As I do this study along with my daily devotionals, God continues to speak to me about something I know He is calling me to do. Something that is beyond me and will require time. Something that just the other day I shared with a friend and specifically asked for prayers to be obedient and disciplined.
Last night God provided time to work, but I wasted it. I wasn't doing "bad" things, but I wasn't intentional either. I chose to do something I enjoyed in the moment, but really won't matter in the long run. Then when it was late and past time to go to bed, I picked up my study and three paragraphs in God spoke to my heart.
I read one short question and tears instantly fell from my heart as God again confirmed what I've been avoiding. He reminded me He'd answered my prayers for time, but I squandered it. I was convicted. And I felt bad.
That painful place opened the door for Satan and he started to condemn, but a quick prayer fought him off. I thought I might feel better with him out of the picture, but I still hurt. It was then I remembered the line from my coach, as the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, "Jill, you should feel bad."
Now I didn't beat myself up, well not for long anyway, but I believe God was trying to show me something. Friend, when we sin, we should feel bad. We are hurting the heart of God. He is holy and can have nothing to do with sin. You may look at my situation, or your's, and think, but I wasn't doing anything "bad"...that may be true, but remember in God's eyes sin is sin. And I chose to disobey.
I was convicted and I felt bad, as I should. And friend, when God convicts you, I pray you feel the same. Sometimes I think it can be too easy, and perhaps we're too quick, to chalk conviction from God up as condemnation from Satan. They are different, but in the moment they make us feel bad. Remember Satan wants to shame you, but God longs to change you!
Our pastor talks about the Good News (the Gospel) and the bad (we're all sinners) - until we understand the bad news we don't realize we need the Good!! Friend, you and I must recognize, confess and repent of our sin so that we can receive God's forgiveness, deal with it and turn from it. And the bad news is when we realize David's words in Psalms 51 are ours we will feel bad. In verse 4 he says, "Against You (God), You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight; so You are right in Your verdict and justified when You judge."
But friend, there is good news...1 John 1:9 encourages us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." That confession will come when God convicts, we feel bad and realize the sin we've committed.
I always felt bad after a loss on the basketball court and though those feelings were not fun, they served a purpose - they opened my eyes to weaknesses, motivated me to improve and kept me humble. And the bad feelings that accompany the recognition of sin are powerful as well...they remind me God is a loving Father who forgives, help me remember I am a sinner who needs Christ and give me the opportunity to turn to the One who can help.
Friend, I know this isn't "fun" stuff to deal with, but it's a necessary struggle to address. Walking in faith is hard, we will slip and fall, but in those moments of conviction remember who God is...it's because of His goodness that He allows us to feel bad because He knows there's something so much better!!
I encourage you to spend some time with Him and ask Him to examine your heart. Pray that He would convict you, even if that means you will feel bad because when you and I are sinning, His light is not shining!