I have quite a collection of ‘big sticks’ that I have gathered over the years. These destructive weapons are not visible to the natural eye, making them even more dangerous. You won’t come across these weapons in a gun catalogue or in a martial arts studio; they carry a lethal blow if used repeatedly. These weapons cause great harm to a victim’s spirit, soul and body. What is even more heinous, these weapons are used to inflict grievous self-harm. I have witnessed the devastating aftermath caused by these self-inflicted assaults in the lives of my friends and family. I have personally dealt with the aftermath of yielding a ‘big stick’ against myself by retreating into the shadows; hoping no one sees my battle scars.
What is the name of this loathsome weapon?
My definition of self-condemnation is the harsh judgment that we place upon ourselves, blanketing our whole being with lies that we are the ‘worst person on the planet’ that we are so hopelessly flawed and there is absolutely no way that we can possibly find redemption. Condemnation attacks our whole being with broad and vague statements that offers no hope for our miserable condition. We use our sticks of self-condemnation when we fall into repeated sin. When we experience unexpected and unexplained failure and disappointment in our lives, we yield our ‘big stick’ against ourselves. After all, it can’t be God’s fault! This barbaric approach does nothing to bring healing or resolution to our sinful hearts and may result in scars that eventually block our hearts from receiving God’s truth. Self-condemnation is the equivalent of dropping a nuclear bomb on a house when trying get rid of a lone mouse in the attic. Overkill at its worst.
In contrast, God’s weapon for dealing with sin is precise and effective. The sharp arrow of God’s conviction zeroes in on the exact center of a specific infection or fatal disease in our hearts. His conviction is never vague or broad in its scope. Conviction, when left in the hands of our skillful Surgeon, always provides an avenue for healing, restoration and freedom. As we follow the Divine Surgeon’s orders, repenting of the specific sin and determining to make life choices so we will not return to destructive behaviour, we will find true and lasting healing.
Hebrews 4:12 NIV
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 (The Message)
His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.
Romans 8:1-5 NIV
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
May I invite you to step away from the ‘big sticks’ of your own life today? Would you walk away from your own judgment seat and submit your heart to the true and merciful Judge, Jesus Christ?
He comes to us in the brokenness of our health, in the shipwreck of our family lives, in the loss of all possible peace of mind, even in the very thick of our sins. He saves us in our disasters, not from them. He emphatically does not promise to meet only the odd winner of the self-improvement lottery: He meets us all in our endless and inescapable losing.
Robert Farrar Capon
Until next week,
© 2012 Katherine Walden