Guilt in Stewardship: The Cause and the Cure

There is a dark side to taking time stewardship seriously. When our standards for our time management become God’s standards, we can’t possibly live up. We’re setting ourselves up for guilt, frustration, and depression.

But there is a cure.

You’ll need to bookmark this page. Or maybe you should print it out and put it somewhere you’ll see it often.

Because this is one of the most important things for Christians to understand – and it’s one of the things we so easily forget.

The Present Reality of the Gospel

There are some insights into Christianity which show us new ways of looking at reality. Other times, we simply need to be reminded about that which we already know.

We’re all aware that, as Christians, we will go to heaven when we die. We’ll be declared innocent due to the blood on the cross which paid the price for our sins.

But here’s something that we need to be reminded of: when does this justification take place? When does God declare us to be righteous?

In Romans 5:1, Paul says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice the tenses: since we have been justified by faith. It’s something that has already occurred – when we came to faith in Christ.

One of the wonderful truths of the gospel is the imputed righteousness of Christ, meaning this: when God looks at us, he sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Not just when we go to heaven – but right now.

When God looks at you right now, he sees pure righteousness. And it’s not because of anything you have done, but because of the grace of God in Christ. You didn’t earn it, and you can’t do anything to lose it either.

Nothing you can ever do will make God look at you with more acceptance than he does right now. Nothing you can ever do will make God look at you with less acceptance.

No More Chasing Approval

Getting this – really understanding this deep inside – should affect how we do everything. It should change our motivations, our attitudes – everything!

So many of us work hard trying to earn approval. Approval from the world, approval from families. Approval from our own harsh inner critics. We’re often plagued with issues from childhoods spent trying to earn our parents’ approvals.

The gospel, specifically the imputed righteousness of Christ, frees us from that.

I love the way that Dave Harvey illustrates this in Rescuing Ambitionget to work not because they have to work.

It’s the same for us now. We work to glorify God and to express our love for him. It’s not something we have to do in order to gain his good favor. We get to. Not have to.

No More Guilt

On Sunday, I taught a small group lesson touching on busyness. Towards the end of class, some spoke up saying that the lesson made them feel guilty. Guilty for all the times they had ignored the needs of others. Guilty for all the times that busyness had mutated their priorities. It felt like a weight had descended upon them.

What a joy it was to remind them of the imputed righteousness of Christ!

So you’ve messed up. You’ve failed. You’ve spent hours playing minesweeper, surfing facebook, or channel flipping. Then you look at your to-do lists, your dreams and ambitions, your obligations – and it just leads you to a tremendous sense of guilt.

Time Stewardship is great when it leads us to want to be effective and to bring God as much glory as possible. But guess what? The more we’re interested in making the most of our time, the more we realize how far we are from perfection.

But take heart. While we can’t downplay our sins – and wasting time is not just a “little” sin – God is looking at you right now and seeing the righteousness of Christ.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt down because I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. So many times, I’ve felt like a total and complete failure. It’s so easy for me to forget the truths I’ve talked about here. I think it’s easy for us all to forget.

The gospel flies in the face of the way the world naturally works for us. But thank God that we don’t have to try to earn approval. Thank God that we can work like billionaires – because we get to and not because we have to.

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