I've been thinking a lot lately about my thoughts. Deep, right? My suspicion is that most of us are constantly bombarded by negative thoughts about ourselves (and others and circumstances but we're going to narrow our focus here). How often do we feel discouraged? How often do we fail and become focused on our failure? How often do we shy away from people and experiences in order to protect ourselves from our vulnerabilities being exposed?
What do we do with all of these thoughts? I would say that it's vitally important to understand the difference between condemnation and conviction.
Condemnation is strong disapproval or criticism that carries the weight of punishment. There is no love and no grace in condemnation. There is no way to make up for your mistake or to be changed by receiving mercy. Condemnation in your thoughts, the way you think about an action, thought or motive, makes you feel worthless, hopeless, useless and unworthy of love.
Conviction is happening when our actions, thoughts or motives are checked by the Holy Spirit. He will point to certain things that are not in line with Christ's character, the fruit of the Spirit or the commands of Christ and show us where we've gone wrong. And while no one likes being told that they've made a mistake, conviction is done with grace, mercy, peace and way to be forgiven and transformed; relying on and trusting in Jesus
The question is this: what voice are you listening to? Do you allow the enemy to tell you that you are a failure and unloveable? Do you tell yourself that you will never be able to change or will always be afraid? Or, do you listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd through the Holy Spirit that leads you to life through your mistakes, mis-steps, sins and selfishness?
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Sprit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2
The truth is, we did used to be under condemnation but now, because of Jesus, we are more than conquerors. We have the privilege of being challenged and changed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Be sure that the voice you are listening to sounds like Jesus. Be sure that it leads you to mercy and forgiveness. Be sure that it challenges you to deeper discipleship. That's conviction and like any discipline it can be painful, but it leads to life and freedom.
Who are you listening to?