• Barb Lownsbury

A Condemned Heart

I am my own worst critic. No one can be harder on me than myself. I am amazed sometimes by the negative self-talk I can let go on in my head. I am cutting; I am harsh. I say things to myself that were anyone else to say to me, I would never speak to them again. I would be shocked and horrified anyone could be that cruel and that rude. Let that soak in for a minute …

I talk a lot about replacing the lies we tell ourselves with what is true. I’m not talking about not owning your actions; I am talking about remembering that God is bigger than your actions, and is able to heal you and propel you forward to new spaces, not because you and I earn it, but because God is that good. He is also greater than the worry we cling to, convinced somehow that all that worrying will somehow prove our worth and our concern, even though every expert out there says the opposite – including God! (Luke 12:25)

How many times have you ripped yourself to shreds, telling yourself you are too gullible, too stupid, too crass, too fat, too lazy, too anal, too ugly, too selfish – and the list goes on and on. And when we’re in times of struggle, it’s especially easy to do. Our failures get marched out one by one, kicking us in the heart and wounding our souls. We feel accused; we feel condemned. We begin to think that last mistake, that one action, that one horrible circumstance is all that life has in store for us. It’s such lie!

Remember, God specializes in making beauty from ashes, and strength from fear (Isaiah 61:3). It’s what He does best. He is the Great I Am, the Great Physician and Healer of Hearts. The Bible teaches that Satan is the great accuser, not God (Revelation 12:10). God’s heart is to rescue us for something greater.

In 1 John 3:18-23, we are told, “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us.”

I love this passage because it reminds me that at the end of the day, love is ultimately what matters. If I’m motivated from a place of love, even toward myself, I find God’s peace and feel emotionally centered. When I remember Jesus’ sacrifice for me, I remember I live under the command of grace, and that there’s nothing that can separate me from the incredible love God has laid out for me through His Son. Doing so reminds me to grab a hold of the great worth God places over me, a worth that was so great, Jesus died to give it to me. Love is what sets my heart to rest in His presence, and allows me to place my life—including my thoughts, fears and worries—squarely back where it belongs: in God’s hands.

For Further Thought: What are some of the negative thoughts that like to invade your heart and mind? How could God’s commands of grace and love make those thoughts different? Remember, giving love to others doesn’t save us; it’s what God uses to remind us we’re saved.

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