It is a simple teaching given us by Jesus:
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
John 10:27, 28
It is also a powerful declaration:
a reminder from our Good Shepherd, that He will see His children safely home.
Even so, we struggle as guilt–all too frequently-–holds the upper hand.
How we think (and who we listen to) impacts how we respond to problems. That is why helping people get into the wisdom and perspective of the Scriptures personally, is key to resolving (or at the very least coming to terms with) their problems. In the Counseling Room we talk about looking at our problems and learning to discern between the voice of Scripture and the world around us. We also talk about how conviction by the Holy Spirit is a gift from God, meant to direct our steps by keeping us on His path. When we respond to conviction by going to God in faith and repentance–seeking forgiveness and to “make right” any wrongs committed toward others–we are freed to once again live for, love and serve Him with glad hearts.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation;
in quietness and trust is your strength.”
We also talk in the Counseling Room about the danger of being run by guilt:
Guilt is used by the Accuser*
to darken our perceptions as we give way to fear.
To illustrate, I share this story:
While on a trip to Israel, my friend (and the small group she was traveling with) enjoyed spending an afternoon watching a shepherd working with his flock of sheep. As they watched, their tour guide talked about the relationship between shepherds and their sheep. They learned that sheep are very vulnerable and need constant tending. The rod the shepherd carries is used to protect the sheep from snakes and other wild animals. The staff, many times crooked at the end, is helpful for pulling back a wandering sheep from danger, is used to lift lambs to return to their mothers and rescuing sheep caught up in thorn bushes or other dangers. Their guide emphasized that sheep are very vulnerable and that a good shepherd never hit his sheep.
Several days later, while waiting with the rest of her group for a bus, they noticed a small flock of sheep being forced along the road by a man beating them with a stick. Shocked at the sight, the group looked to their guide with confusion on their faces. The guide responded. “Don’t be fooled by appearances. That man is not the shepherd of that flock; he’s the butcher!”
That story profoundly changed how I viewed myself and other people, how I perceived my problems and (most especially) how I saw God. I realized that to doubt God in my heart, I was playing Satan’s game. By giving way to fear or anguish–assuming the worst of God–we lose sight of our faithful Shepherd.
A couple of questions:
- How good are you at beating yourself up–when you realize you have failed God–AGAIN?
- Do you isolate yourself from God–what I refer to as, “Put yourself in a spiritual corner”–because you think you should be further along in your walk with Christ than you are?
God convicts our hearts to draw us closer to Himself;
He never “guilts” or beats up His kids.
The key to breaking such unhealthy patterns, is to refuse to play Satan’s game. Instead of isolating yourself, run to the Shepherd in repentant faith:
- Give thanks to God when He convicts you. (Conviction alerts us to potential dangers we might otherwise not recognize.)
- Refuse to doubt God’s Goodness–instead invite Him to reveal other sin areas as you open your mind and heart to Him.**
- Repent of your sin and give thanks for His forgiveness.
- Commit to honor Him every area of your life by refusing to doubt His Goodness.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again
by a yoke of slavery.”
All to His Glory!
*This link offers a helpful perspective on Satan’s role in history.
**Psalm 139:23-24 provides a helpful pattern for repentance:
“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”