Romans 8:1 says... Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If this is true, then why do so many followers of Christ feel so bad, guilty and condemned much of the time? It almost seems like these words aren’t true. But perhaps, it has more to do with how we apply or mis-apply them the words not being true.
Somebody asked me recently, “My mother ridicules me and swears at me and always talks down to me – she has my whole life. She expects me to be at her beck and call. Am I dishonoring my mother because I need a break from her?” This person was a Christian woman in her fifties. She had endured many years of condemning words. She suffered greatly because of this with feelings of being worthless and incompetent.
Anyone who would feel like this needs to experience the truth and freedom found in Romans 8:1. But how would she begin to apply it? In her case, and perhaps in your case as well, you would need to first understand that the way her mother treated her was abusive. She had convinced her with words that she was worthless. That her life didn’t count for much. So she concluded, that she should be abused and condemned.
When you identify these types of words as abusive, you can begin to see these words are words of condemnation. This is where you as a follower of Christ need to see the difference between truth and faulty thinking. In this case, what she needed to do, was begin to set a healthy boundary between she and her mother. Because she was no longer under condemnation and God sees her as a very worthwhile person (in contrast to her mother), she has both the right and obligation to set a boundary with her mother. She is a child of God with a purpose, and she should not be subjected to abuse and condemnation.
I advised her to set some boundaries. For example, the next time her mother would call her on the phone, she should answer her and if her mother is polite and respectful, to talk with her. But at the first instant when her mother starts to condemn her or swear at her, she needs to say, “I will not have you talk to me like that. If you want to talk another time with respect and a good tone, I will talk with you. But I will not talk with you when you raise your voice and call me names.” And then she needs to hang up.
She will need to do this each time her mother calls and begins to raise her voice or speak condemning words at her. She had become programmed to take this abuse. But when she begins to see herself as a person no longer under condemnation, she can begin to think and act differently. When it comes to taking a break from her mom, she needs to be responsible and have someone check in on her, but she certainly should get away with her family and enjoy some peace and quiet – especially from her mother.
The person she has asked to check on her mother would be the only one who would be able to contact the daughter. And the daughter should feel free from being under obligation to her mother while she is away. And of course, if there is a real emergency, the person checking on her mom, would call her and notify her. She would allow this woman to set a healthy boundary, have some serious interrupted downtime away from her mother, while at the same time being a responsible daughter to her elderly mother.
For many of us as followers of Christ, we think we have to do it all...be at everyone’s beckon call...or never say no. It is like when we do, we feel terribly guilty. God says we are not under condemnation. We need to see these words as truth and then begin to experience them by respecting others, but at the same time, setting healthy boundaries so we are able to remain strong and live the life that God has given to us. We can’t afford to allow other people, even loved ones, to suck the life out of us by doing everything they want us to do, and then when we can’t or don’t; we become filled with guilt and condemnation. This sets us up for a cycle of constant failure. God looks to set you free from this trap.
May today be the beginning of you getting out of this trap and experiencing the freedom that comes from living a life without condemnation. Living this type of life without any condemnation may not happen for us in this life, but we certainly can begin to take steps to reduce its impact upon our lives.
Let’s begin today to take the first baby - steps toward living life in a new way!
By: Jack Guyler