Still writing Checks? The effects of Guilt, Shame


“Jesus said, ‘it is finished.’ He did not say, ‘to be continued…’” – Brook Potter

 Bob George shared this story in his book: Growing in Grace.

A few years ago, there was a man named Stewart who was brought up on charges for drunk driving and involuntary man slaughter. This man, eventually ended up in civil court squared off against the family of the 18 year old girl he had killed in his accident. Having won the case, the family had originally asked for the sum $1.8 Million, but they settled for only $936.

Now, at first glance it may appear that Stewart got off easy, to have his punishment reduced from such a large sum to something so small. Even though that may appear to be a win, the money had to be paid in a very specific manner.

Every Friday, on the day the young girl was killed, Stewart would write a check in the girl’s name for the sum of $1, to be paid every week for 18 years. Again at first this appears to be a piece of cake, a dollar a week for 18 years, seems easy. The parties agreed and Stewart commences his weekly ritual of writing checks.

Something very strange started to happen to Stewart after the first few months. Every Friday, he wrote out the checks, he was constantly reminded of his guilt in the death of that young girl. As weeks rolled on, it soon became an agonizing endeavour, that kept him in a cycle of condemnation. It became so intense, that he even petitioned the courts to declare the act Cruel and Unusual Punishment, and offered the family a box full of all the checks, plus an extra year, if they would just stop the cycle. The family insisted it continued and said they will fight in the courts to have it done, until the amount was paid in the time they had agreed.

This is a true story.

When looking at this example, the question arises, “Would Stewart and this family ever be able to have a close relationship in that condition?” The answer is of course, No. Guilt, shame and condemnation will continue to eat away at Stewart every week when he is constantly reminded of his sin, and he would want to avoid the family at all costs.

I see the parallels of this in the life of believers all the time. Many are unaware that Jesus has already paid the debt, and they insist on writing their own checks to God for their past indiscretions. This thinking keep believers locked in a cycle of sin consciousness, and they never truly want to get close to the Father.

This is a major reason believers fall away into the world.  They get tired of writing checks, by attending church, reading their bible every day, confessing, repenting and doing all manner of good works in hopes of somehow paying for their sins, that they don’t know has already been paid. Many don’t really want to approach God, because they feel unworthy and unaccepted, even after Jesus has accepted them and showed their value for them while they were yet sinners (Romans 5:8.)

In the book of 2 Peter 1:5-11, lists a host of the attributes that believers should have. When a believer does not do these things, the answer is not to force the behaviour, rather we see the real issue is in verse 9;

2 Peter 1:9  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

In other words, the person who fails to show those attributes has forgotten that the debt has been paid, and their sins are forgiven. If we want people to serve God with all their heart, we need to allow the Blood to  free them from the guilt, shame and condemnation that keeps us from really approaching the Father, and the Cross is the Answer to all three.

Hebrews 10:22  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled [purged with the Blood] from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Dan Mohler talking about freedom from Guilt, shame and condemnation

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