Romans 8:1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
A Word of Hope
This scripture in Romans is both powerful and life changing. This is an invitation to live a guilt free life. It is also a challenge to us to abstain from guilt-tripping other people!
It helps to understand how guilt works. Many of the things we do in life affect others. When we do the “right thing”, we feel self-respect. If our action does not meet our own standard for “rightness”, the difference between our action and our standard is the space where guilt lives.
My Sunday school teachers taught us to avoid guilt by always doing the right thing. To be fair, they also taught us to ask God for forgiveness when we failed to behave perfectly, as we surely would.
I believe there is more to what this scripture is teaching. I believe that those who are wrapped up in following Jesus do not need to worry over much about failure. When a spirit of love guides us, we will be doing the “right thing” most of the time. When we notice that we have somehow missed the mark, or missed an opportunity to show love to another, we simply correct it. If we have caused harm, we clean it up. Do whatever it takes to make it right. If we have thought an uncharitable thought, we notice and change our thoughts. Like sailors who notice they are off course, we change the set of our sails so that we return to following the steps of Jesus. We do not need to beat ourselves up. We simply change course. It takes only a second, and the guilt disappears.
As for guilt-tripping others? The way I read this scripture, it says “… There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. None. Not for ourselves, and not for others. The only good function of guilt is to help us notice when we are off the mark.
Holy Spirit, fill me with Godly love so that it flows through me to every person in my world, to those I meet and those I only hear about, to those I already love and even those with whom I disagree or have actively disliked. Let me be so full of love that I have no time for guilt and condemnation. Let me be all about my Savior’s work today and every day. Amen.
Carole Anne Sarah