Thursday, January 30, 2014

The "Would 've, Should 've, Could 'ves" of Life

     When we lose someone, the first thing that often pops in our heads is what we "should have done, what we would have done or what we could have done" for them.  Another name for this is guilt.  We all suffer from guilt as it is because we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.  We all fail one another at some point.  So when a family member dies, our mind is fertile ground for this kind of thinking.
     While it may be true that we missed some opportunities to say or do something for that person, no one can possibly cover all the bases.  We do the best we can with God's help and leave the results in His hands.  So why do we allow the enemy of our souls to beat us up with the big stick of guilt?  When we do allow this, the next phase is "if only I had done this or that".  Again, it is a fallacy.  Only the Lord holds the power of life and death in His hands.  Our omissions and commissions cannot change the course of His will for our lives or the lives of those we love.  We cannot second guess God.  However, we can stand on His assurances in His Word.  As we do this, that big stick of guilt is whittled to a toothpick in no time flat.
     In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote these liberating and important words:  "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2).  If God no longer condemns us because of the blood of Christ, then, we must not condemn ourselves.  He has set us free from the bondage to sin and death that once we were under.  By no means are we perfect for we still carry the old flesh around, but it has lost its power in our lives!  In Christ, we are free from the real guilt of sin and the false guilt put on us by Satan.
     Furthermore, Paul goes on throughout chapter 8 encouraging believers in their salvation and what it means to us.  Then, in the concluding verses 31-39, Paul encourages us to continue and persevere in the Lord.  Verse 31 reads:  "What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?"  Paul, then, goes on to explain that we are justified in Christ and that no one can accuse or condemn us.  In fact, Christ is now at the right hand of the Father even now interceding on our behalf.  This is glorious news isn't it?  We have the Lord Himself standing before God the Father pleading our case and caring for our souls.  Going on, Paul writes in verse 35:  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword?"  Then, he concludes in verses 37-39:  "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  There we have it!  NOTHING can separate us from God's love when we are found in Christ Jesus.
     Therefore, dear ones, we need to put away false guilt about the would 've, should 've, could 'ves in life.  Our times are in His hands.  He knew the days and length of our life even before we take our first breath (Psalm 139), and He will see us through to the end.  God has a plan for us and for all those we love.  We may not understand it at the time, or even like it, but as Romans 8:28 says:  "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."  My "Reformation Study Bible" footnote on that verse reads:  "The purpose of God guarantees "good" for His people.  For them this is not necessarily ease and quiet, but being like Christ.  God's providence rules in such a way as to ensure everything that happens to us is working for our ultimate good" (pg. 1627 The Reformation Study Bible).  We have to trust Him and lean not on our own understanding or listen to the lies of the enemy.  Let us put away all false guilt and know that God does not condemn us, and we must not condemn ourselves.  Until that day when we see Him face to face, let us rest in His love that comforts, restores and heals us.  I close with these words of Paul:  "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."  May we not let the enemy ever cloud our vision and our hope in Christ.  Selah!

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