The church I grew up in could sum up much of its theology in one statement: “Thou shalt not ... ” I don’t recall hearing about the Father’s love or how to live the Christian life. What I learned was that a wrathful God would punish me if I didn’t follow all the rules. And there seemed to be rules for everything—including what I could read, what I could wear, and what I could do.
As a teenage boy, I spent a lot of time begging the Lord to forgive me for one foolish thing or another. And I carried around a constant weight of guilt and worry everywhere I went. I just couldn’t seem to be good enough. In truth, the rules were a burden to me, and since I thought God made them, He was a burden too.
In my young adult years, I learned that my perception of God was wrong. He is gracious and loving. The commandments that He gave were designed to keep us safe and free from shame. But even when we do mess up, there is no condemnation for those who trust in Christ (Rom. 8:1). That means He forgives our sin and “wipes out [our] transgressions,” remembering them no more (Isa. 43:25). We may have to live with consequences but never with the weight of guilt.
God is not a burden. He is the burden-bearer. (See Psalm 68:19.) He placed our sins on Jesus Christ at Calvary, thereby relieving us of that heaviness. Don’t keep staggering under the load of guilt. Lay it down before a loving, gracious heavenly Father, who encourages us to come to Him and offers a yoke that is easy and light (Matt. 11:28-30).
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