I love op shops, I admit it. I’m addicted to the thrill of finding wearable treasures in a sea of not-so-lovely stuff.
I also love Italian hot chocolates. They are rarely made the way I like them, but when I find a good one I’m fanatical about it.
I love cooking. Preferably with successful results, but I really just love the process of sifting, stirring, roasting, whatever – it’s therapeutic, and I enjoy seeing ingredients transformed.
I love my husband. I love the way he bounds in the door. I enjoy his anecdotes and jokes, his unusual hobbies, his intellectual insights, and the way he manages to make me feel better when I’ve had a bad day. I just love him.
I love my kids. Both are talkers. I could do with one of those courtroom hammers sometimes so I could shout ‘Order!’ at certain times. They are constantly competing for a place on the podium, and I love their liveliness and negotiating skills.
But do I love these things because someone told me I should? Because someone laid a guilt trip on me? If someone said: ‘It really is your obligation to buy all your clothes from op shops because you owe it to your family to cut costs…’ believe me, I’d feel less like doing it. Or if someone said ‘You really should make a gourmet dinner for eight people in your home this Saturday night instead of having a night out at a restaurant with your husband…” I probably wouldn’t beam with joy.
Sure, some things are to some degree duty-based. I may not always race out of bed at 6.30am to excitedly make breakfast and pack lunches for my kids – but I do it because of what I value on a larger level. I want them to be healthy. No-one is holding a gun to my head saying ‘make them lunch or die!’. I choose to because I care about their welfare, and I’m driven by a natural maternal love for them.
I’m often intrigued by the battle between our free choice or will – and our sense of duty.
Ever had a Christian guilt trip laid on you?
I get frustrated by trite sayings like: “What if you treated your Bible like you treated your mobile (cell) phone?”. Platitudes such as these, of course, hold an element of truth. Reading your Bible is a good thing – the best way, in fact, to hear God speaking to us. And technology can definitely start to take over our lives. But does a statement like that, issued condescendingly, inspire you? Or just make you feel bad?
Some Christians act as though guilt-based statements are godly, instead of remembering that our guilt has been washed away by Jesus.
As Hebrews 10:22 says:
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
As God’s adopted children we are forgiven from our sins, and therefore made free from the guilt (or false pride) that legalistic living produces. Yes, we still have consciences, and we desire to live our lives for God. But we can draw near to Him knowing that our shame has been rubbed out by what He did on the cross, and He will guide us towards His will for our lives – gently and lovingly.
There is definitely a place for helping each other lead better lives – but criticising someone without grace or love is energy badly spent.
Guilt trips never inspire changed lives. They might induce temporary, forced action – but the result is often not a heart overflowing with love for God, and a desire to know Him better. Guilt trips usually inspire a kind of rebellion that takes us away from God.
We’ve become so used to the guilt trip that we’ve become hardened to it, like the child that’s been yelled at to change their attitude for the 50 millionth time. Who can actually command their thinking to change, or do a 180 on their attitude, whatever that means… just because someone tells them to?
Change comes from a variety of sources, and one of the most powerful ones is having a friend or family member in your life who can model what healthy, grace-filled living looks like. The Bible is the most powerful source of wisdom, with endless stories of God’s mercy and love towards flawed people. But God also uses the people in our lives to teach us. As His mouthpieces.
I started this post by revealing some of the things I loved. What about you? What are your passions – and your values in life? What makes you feel alive?
If we weren’t motivated by our desires at all we might never get out of bed. But because of our values, and our longings to enjoy life and grow as people, we push ourselves to do a lot of things that might be hard in the beginning.
Like reading the Bible. Or finding the courage to ask someone out for coffee.
I want to start each day with turning my heart – the place all dreams reside – towards Jesus.
Hebrews 12.2 says:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus didn’t look forward to the torture of the cross, which would secure our forgiveness. But he knew it was the will of His father, and he went through it for the sake of redeeming humanity, and ultimately proving He was God through his resurrection. He did it “for the joy set before him”. The joy of ultimately bringing His lost children home, to (joyfully) worship Him forever.
Let’s ask God to turn our desires towards Him so that all the things we love – and do – flow out of that relationship. May guilt-based, duty-bound living be transformed into an exciting, passionate, faith-filled journey that matches and exceeds absolutely everything on our ‘I love’ lists.
I’d like to leave you with Galatians 5:1:
“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.”