Thursday, August 27, 2009

Good Guilt

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a woman whose inner beauty, strength, ingenuity, wisdom and dignity were so exceptional that she put all others to shame. Her name? Mrs. Proverbs 31. And she is the subject of today's scripture passages which are chapters 30 and 31 of this book of wisdom.

I read about her, this portrait of feminine excellence, and I am bewildered by the chasm that exists between the description of her and the one that would accurately define me. So what am I to do with this specific chapter of scripture? And how can I escape the penitentiary of guilt that my failure to measure up to this ideal imposes?

In attempting to answer my own questions, I'm reminded that guilt, in and of itself, has gotten a bad rap. The truth is, guilt can be good. I fear, though, that we've confused guilt with shame, resulting in elimination of necessary guilt. So rather than allowing it to do its beneficial work within us, we're tempted to embrace the "always have positive self-esteem" philosophy that is pervasive in our culture. The danger of this surfaces when possession of positive self-esteem is unmerited by one's actions or attitudes. Recognition of our guilt is what motivates us to confess and repent, which may explain why this seems to be a subject you don't hear much about any more.

As I write these words, I realize that what I'm trying to convey is not a typical response to such beautiful chapters, but I want you to understand that although it is important for you to have healthy self esteem, it's equally important that you understand one of scripture's clear teachings: We are not good apart from God, and are in fact, guilty. We are unworthy of salvation. We deserve punishment and judgment. And yet...God offers us just the opposite when we acknowledge the truth about ourselves.

So what is the truth? I think Romans 3 sums it up nicely:

10As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."

We're all pretty much messes. And despite the fact that some women are probably a lot closer to a bonafide Proverbs 31 lady than I'll ever be, they are just as needy and lacking as I am in the eyes of God. And just as we're told that we have no righteousness apart from Him, we are also told that He so loved the world (that includes us) that He gave His only Son to be righteous for us.

In Jesus Christ alone we are made new and good and worthy. And because of Him we can ALL share in the glorious truth of the final verses of Proverbs 31:

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Father, please help us have hope and health in terms of the way we view ourselves as women (and men) so that we never fail to recognize our dependency on you and our depravity apart from you. May the praise of your name be on our lips because of your great love and mercy as long as we have breath. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment