This is something I still struggle with myself even though I understand the truth of it logically. No matter how much you sin and fail God, he still loves you and can forgive you. The hard part for me is actually forgiving myself even knowing God has done that for me.
Something I have always struggled to have is joy in the Lord. In many ways, I actually lost any joy that I had because I became entirely aware of how evil I actually am. I don't think this is something only I struggle with, I am sure many of us do and there isn't an easy solution to it. I was someone who genuinely thought he was a moral person until Hannah finally told me everything I needed to know about God and completely destroyed the illusion I had created for myself. I had actually taken a lot of pride in knowing that, compared to most people, I was pretty great, so when I lost it I never really recovered from it. I live constantly aware that even as I improve I am nowhere near where I need to be and it is like a crushing weight constantly on my head that I can't seem to get rid of.
The solution should be pretty simple, pray and trust what the bible says about it. God loves us so much that no matter what we do we can be forgiven for it. That includes our past, present, and future sins, without any exceptions, all paid for with Jesus's blood on the cross. This, for most people, seems to be an amazing comfort that no matter what they do God will forgive them and welcome them in Heaven. For me and anyone like me though, it doesn't have the same effect. I am completely aware that God is able to forgive me for anything I do, but my need to be a genuinely good person means that I hate myself any time I mess up even remotely. I am not generally afraid of going to Hell, I know Jesus is with me and that I will be forgiven for anything I do, but the hardest thing for me is to forgive myself. I hold on to everything I ever did in the past which is, unfortunately, a very long list. Despite being able to easily forgive other people for the exact same things, I find it almost impossible to forgive myself for anything no matter how minor it was. I feel nothing but shame and despite trying I have not actually managed to stop thinking this way.
I am wrong to think this way. The reality is that Jesus died for our sins so that we wouldn't dwell the way I do. Jesus doesn't want us to dwell on the past, he wants us to dwell on him and the things we can do with him. We have been washed clean of our guilt by his actions and it is wrong to hold on to something that should be long gone. It is not an easy thing but we all need to learn to forgive ourselves, because no one should have to carry the weight of this much sin. Jesus did it for us when he took up his cross and if you are like me and struggling day after day with depression, you know exactly how heavy the weight of our sin is. We should never become the sorts of people that just don't care and do whatever we want even if it is sinful, but we also shouldn't dwell so hard we destroy ourselves.
Learn from your failures and do all in your power not to sin. Pray to God if you fail and do all in your power to never stumble again. He will be at your side helping you even if you don't know it. Don't hate yourself because you are a new creation and Jesus loves you even with all of your flaws. Jesus died on the cross knowing exactly how evil we are and he thinks we are worth saving, we should accept that truth and just learn to be grateful for everything Jesus did for us. It won't be easy, I know I have been trying for a long time, but learning to love yourself as God does is the path we all have to take if we really want to find joy in God.
It seems to me that people are afraid of getting married and it is never for good reasons. Let's talk about some of the lies you have been told and the ones you are telling yourself so that you can get through that fear.
The first thing we need to talk about is this idea that when you get married you are somehow tied down, your life of fun is over. This is complete nonsense, the only thing that actually changes is you have someone that can do everything with you. Want to be a missionary and go wherever? Well now you won't be there alone. This applies to just about anything you can think of. Marriage means you have a partner in everything you do, it doesn't mean you can't do anything anymore. Your life isn't over, it in fact has gotten drastically better.
The next thing you need to be aware of is there is rarely a good reason to wait to get married. I know so many people that have been dating for years just worrying about money. They want to be perfectly stable before they get married but that is not actually something you need to wait for. You can work together from being poor to getting stable, you don't need to be there already. I know that weddings can be expensive but they don't have to be. Getting married is only as expensive as you make it, just ditch some of the stuff that makes it impossible to afford. Some people think you need to wait 4-5 years to get married. Realistically, there is no reason to wait more then 2, you aren't going to learn much more after 2 years and honestly you don't even have to wait that long. There will always be an excuse for you to not get married, but that is all it is, an excuse.
Now I know that divorce rates are pretty high now, a lot of people don't even bother to get married like it is some outdated thing, but not Christians. God allows us to get a divorce if there is adultery in the relationship, but even then, he doesn't want us to. We are expected to work things out in our marriage because it is always possible. The reason those stats are high is because people go into their marriages considering divorce an option. If things get even a little bad you can just get out! That is the mentality many people go into marriage with. You may be thinking it requires some major problem but it is usually something fixable, like money, which makes people separate. If you go into the marriage with the right mindset, that you need to fix things and not just bail, your marriage will last. That applies even if you aren't Christian, marriage is not something you can just end on a whim. You become two parts of a whole and that means something more than just dating.
Another important thing you need to know is that marriage is not a magical land of no fighting. You and whoever you marry are two different people, you don't even think the same way. There are going to be fights and things you have to work through together. There are going to be struggles that test you both and things are going to be rough sometimes. This doesn't mean it isn't worth it to get married, you will have struggles no matter what, it only means you have someone to get through them with. Sometimes it will be work, sometimes it will feel like you are against each other but you can work through it and you will be happy you did because it's worth it.
These are the main things I hear when people tell me why they aren't getting married. Don't fall for the lies and see marriage for what it is, sharing your life with someone amazing. There are no shackles aside from the ones you put on yourselves and all issues can be worked out. All you have to do is love each other and do everything in your power to serve the other person, man or woman. It is not a decision you will regret as you long as you go into it with the right mindset.
The first thing you need to understand as a Christian is no one is good, only God is. That leaves a simple question though, what is the point of doing good things when we know we aren't good?
Jesus is very clear when he speaks to the rich man that approaches him. There isn't anyone good but God, and if we are honest with ourselves, this is fairly obvious. We have all sinned in some way. In fact just about all of us are guilty of every sin we could be, and that makes us evil. The standard for being good is perfection, and only God has done that. Even one sin is enough to no longer be considered good, so let's not delude ourselves in this area. We like to put people like Abraham or David on pedestals but only God actually deserve to be there.
Now just because we aren't good does not mean that we never do anything good, that can and absolutely does happen. But why does it matter if it isn't going to somehow wash away the bad things we have done? The answer is pretty simple, it matters because it is the right thing to do. Once you put your trust in Christ and repent of your sins, which means to turn away from them, you should legitimately want to do the right thing. It isn't a matter of getting something out of it, we do the things we do because they are right. Once you know something is evil, it makes no sense to continue doing it, it only makes sense to do what you now know to be good. As Christians, there is really no excuse to continue in our sin, regardless of the fact that we will be forgiven for it. God doesn't expect perfection but bare minimum we better be trying to be good even if we are going to fail.
Another reason is simply to please God by doing things that he can take some joy in. God knows all of our thoughts and actions, I don't doubt that he is very happy whenever he sees someone do something genuinely good. That alone is enough reason to do good things, but it's even more than that. Jesus literally died for us, we owe everything to him and doing good things is part of that. It is how we show that we love him through our actions and it is one of the main ways a person can have assurance they are truly saved. If you genuinely care enough about Jesus to do good things for his sake, then even when you fail you can know at least your intentions are in the right place and God is with you. Make no mistake, if you aren't a Christian you aren't going to be doing anything for Jesus's sake, it is almost always going to be all about you.
Another very important reason to do good things is simply to stand out in the world. This is a fallen world covered in sinners and people who are consistently doing things are going to stand out big time. That is exactly what God expects of Christians and make it is important that we aren't just like everybody else. We are God's children and the people around us need to see that, it is a major aspect of giving people the Gospel. If we are consistent with what we believe and live it, when we tell someone the truth it will have more meaning. If we are just living like they are it will barely matter at all because they will be able to see it doesn't actually matter to us.
We always need to set an example and be what God wants us to be. We don't need to be perfect, we are still going to fail sometimes, but we need to try at all times. Doing good things is never going to get you to Heaven, but that was never why we did good in the first place. Let's leave it to every other faith on the planet to lie to people, telling them their good works will wash away the bad. We will keep doing good things for God's sake and for everyone around us that still doesn't know him.
I need to talk about this because I find that people are walking around with a lot of guilt they don't deserve. When other people sin, it is not your fault.
There is a sin problem in our world, regardless of who you talk to, they are a sinner. This also means their thoughts can be sinful and you have absolutely no control over it. When they sin, even if they blame you, that does not make it your fault. While it is possible to sin ourselves by leading someone else to it, that does not apply to when you are doing nothing wrong. An example of that type of sin is drinking alcohol next to a drunk and things like that. (1 Corinthians 8:7-13) On the other hand, if you are someone dressed perfectly modest and someone chooses to lust after you, that isn't even slightly your fault. In fact, even if you dressed horribly, (as in hardly dressed at all,) and they lust, it is still their fault, not yours, because they chose to sin. You have an issue as well if you are dressing that way, but that is a separate thing to be addressed all on its own. If you're wondering if you somehow are at fault for their sin just because of your clothes, you're not. no matter what, it is still on them completely if they choose to sin. It is always a choice and we can't blame ourselves for what others do, or blame others for what we do.
I have found this is something people don't understand very well and I want everyone to really get it. There are so many women out there feeling dirty for the actions of guilty men around them when they didn't do anything wrong. There are pastors teaching that God will punish your kids for your sin despite being innocent themselves and it's just craziness to me. We are only accountable for our own sin and that isn't going to change. Don't blame yourself when someone else does something wrong, and don't hold it against them. It is alright to be upset when someone wrongs you, but always be willing to forgive them and don't let it fester and turn into something more. Like I said before, there is a sin problem in the world and people need to hear the gospel, no matter how much they wrong us. So let the blame fall where it belongs and treat them as you would anyone else, no matter how depraved they may be. (Romans 5:20-21)
Another aspect of this that needs to be talked about is the reverse of this problem; people making excuses to sin because of people around them. It does not matter if most guys have a lust issue, you do not get an excuse to lust. Just because many women have a tendency to gossip a lot, does not mean that you get to gossip just because you're a woman. I don't care how many people around you are sinning, it is not an excuse to do it yourself. I hear it far too much in the church that it is just a given you will sin a certain way just because of your surroundings. The best thing you can do for yourself and for God is to stop making excuses and be the person God wants you to be. Don't worry about what others do, don't worry about how many people tell you it isn't worth trying to change. Just do whatever God expects of you, no matter how hard it may seem, to the absolute best of your ability.
The best way I can summarize everything I tried to explain here is this; The things that other people do have no bearing on the choices you ultimately make. You are not guilty of the sin of people around you, and nothing physically forced on you can count against you as sin. At the same time, you are not excused of your actions because other people push you toward sin. We will all be held accountable for our actions in the end, and God is not going to excuse you because people told you it was okay. I hope this brings you some peace and understanding so that you can start focusing on being the best follower of Christ you can be.
I have been hearing people talk about this a lot, this idea that God wants you to focus on Him, so don't worry about relationships or getting married, just wait on God's time. I wanted to talk about this because I think this mindset is incorrect, even though it sounds good on the surface.
The first point I would like to make is the simple fact of how God designed us. We learn in Genesis that Adam was not really complete until Eve was made to be with him.
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. -Genesis 2:18
God designed us to get married. It is better when we have a spouse to support us and do everything with. I know people think this adds limitations to your life and that a spouse takes away attention from God, but that is just not the case, it simply means we will do everything together. It is also worth mentioning that God wants us to love other people, so in a way this is actually putting God first by following that command.
The second point that needs to be made is that just because God doesn't want us worrying about tomorrow, doesn't mean He wants us to sit on our hands and wait for Him to hand us everything. I am not saying to just go out and date a bunch of people. You should still be wise about who you choose to be with and it should always be with the intent to marry, but as things are, people are just rejecting everyone and using God as an excuse to do so. I do not believe God wants that. Quite the opposite, in fact, He wants you to get married because, as previously said, you were designed to be.
The third and most important point I would like to make is that this is a very dangerous type of legalism. It allows people to feel holier while simultaneously ignoring God's will for them, much in the same way the Pharisees did in Jesus's time.
This hasn't been made into a law at churches, but people are made to feel guilty for wanting to get married, as if in doing so they are completely ignoring God. The people causing this guilt get to walk away feeling good about themselves because they are supposedly putting God first by remaining single and pushing others to do the same. I ask you though, if an intent to marry is really such a distraction for people, why then, is it a requirement for pastors to have a wife? The people that have quite literally dedicated their lives to God and teaching His word, shepherding His people, have to get married. Yet, with this mindset that singleness is better for serving God, they should all stay single.
We all need to be very careful when we start pushing this type of thing. We are stressing people out, making them feel like they aren't good enough for wanting something God designed for them. They are being told that, because of that desire, they aren't putting God first. It just isn't true and we should never be putting guilt on a person for doing exactly what God wants for them. This also puts men, who should be the ones initiating a relationship, in a position where they may blame God for not bringing them "The One" when they never acted on the opportunity. This is all very similar to the prosperity gospel and how disappointed people will be when God doesn't make them rich and so on for their works, this mindset creates the same kind of stress. Yes, there are people out there that God has called to be single, but I assure you, they are a minority and they aren't very likely to be interested in marriage to begin with.
Just because something sounds like it is better and more holy doesn't mean it is, so next time someone is expressing interest in getting married one day, support them. Give them advice and help them to be wise about it. Encourage them to date someone who is equally yoked and who also wants to put God first in everything they do. Steer them in the right direction and help them avoid any sins they may become vulnerable to when they start a relationship, but don't make them feel guilty and tell them some nonsense about being called to singleness. God is the one who will call them to singleness, so you don't need to suggest that to them.
Dedicated to making strong disciples of Christ.
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