self-criticism-440303_1280

This devo is the first published work that I’ve had. It appeared in Chains Unchained: Friends and Sinners: Devotions for the Rest of Us, compiled by my friend Wayne Nale.

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Romans 8:1 NKJV

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Even after being a Christian for 20 years now, I still tend to have an internal battle on my opinion of myself. I am not a guy who is naturally filled with confidence in the things that I do. My instinctive inclination is to beat myself up when I make a mistake. Hardly a day goes by that I am not reminded of a mistake (or mistakes) that I made in the past, which can further fill me with shame and regret.

But then there is Romans 8:1. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. We have been accepted in Christ, so there is no condemnation for us. God doesn’t condemn us. Instead, he forgives us of our sins. And if God doesn’t condemn us, then we have no right to condemn ourselves. One translation of Romans 8:31 says that if God be for us, then what does it matter who is against us? This includes ourselves. We are not our own. We belong to Christ.

There is a difference between conviction and condemnation. Condemnation brings shame, regret, and guilt. Conviction of the Holy Spirit brings us to turn towards God in repentance of our sins.

1 John 4:8 says that God is love. God is the love of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. God is very patient and kind. He never gives up. He is not envious nor boastful. He is not arrogant nor selfish. He is slow to anger, not quick to take offense. He keeps no record of wrongs. He does not gloat over our sins but delights when truth prevails. He never gives up, never loses faith, and is always hopeful. There is no limit to His endurance, no end to His trust.

All of this is the love that God has for you. So we need to learn to love ourselves, not to condemn ourselves.

Romans 8:1 is also helpful in encouraging us when those around us are hateful to us or have no faith or confidence in us. They make think that they can condemn us, but God doesn’t. If God be for us, then what does it matter who is against us? If God loves us and does not condemn us, then what does it matter what others think? Given the choice, I’ll take God’s opinion over theirs.

Romans 8:1 is further helpful in our own treatment of others. Just as God loves us, and we need to learn to love ourselves, so we also need to love others. We have no right to condemn others. As God loves us, so we should love others. In God loving others, He doesn’t do so based on their qualifications, He loves them because He is love.

One of the best ways for us to learn to love God, ourselves, and others, is by renewing our minds according to the word of God. Romans 12:2 in the NKJV says:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We renew our minds by reading, studying, and prayerfully contemplating God’s Word. This is just one of the many reasons why His word is so important.

Romans 12:2 in the NLT says:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Let God through His word change the way you think, to help you to love Him more, love yourself more, and love others more. Love God and love people. On this rests the commands of God.

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