Jumping Into the Fire to Avoid the Flame - by Charlie Riel


Guilt and self-condemnation are two of the biggest issues I battle with on a day-to-day basis. No matter how many math problems I do or how busy I keep myself I can never seem to hide from my own mind. The things that I have done in the past, or the things others have done to me, are to blame for the majority of my sleepless nights. Unfortunately most of my problems are results of perpetual sins in my own life. Oh! How frustrating it is whenever I slip up again…and again….and again. It seems as though I let my guard down too often and sin creeps up and gets the best of me and before I know it, its 2 AM and I am lying awake in bed and regretting everything.

So a couple weeks ago this happened again and this time it was really bad. Friends of mine were left confused, upset and frustrated. Of course I sincerely apologized and I begged for forgiveness from everyone in the situation. (Luckily I am blessed with awesome friends who are full of that stuff.) Overflowing with grace and mercy, they forgave me, but unfortunately for me the wells of my grace and mercy had run dry. I was so frustrated with myself and no matter how deep I buried my thoughts into homework I could hear myself screaming in frustration from that empty well. After a week or so of this nonsense I was reading and praying and reading and praying. I eventually came across this passage that really caught me off-guard. Now that I am writing this, the passages that come to mind are things like Romans 8:1 and the whole stinking book of 1 John… but I suppose I didn’t think of those because I was blinded by my own demons. The passage that I found was actually near the end of the book of Mathew. To be more exact the verses are Mathew 27:1-5.

“Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.

“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”

Yes. Believe it or not, this is the passage that led to my restoration and liberation from guilt, shame and everything else that’s tagged along with sin. Also for those of you who don’t really know me that well yet, I promise I am not a complete weirdo. Now please just let me explain. When I saw this passage I immediately turned to the Mathew-Henry Commentary to see why on earth this made it into the Bible… and to my surprise, my friend Matt had a valid point.

In this passage we read about the guilt and remorse felt by Judas after he realized what he had done. Now pause for a second, I have seen this same emotion before, I have battled with it from sundown to sunrise. I am not that much different from Judas and quite frankly I don’t think many of us are. I don’t think Judas’ betrayal was any worse than the multitudes of sin I have committed. See most people, including myself, would say that Judas committed a pretty terrible sin, after all he betrayed the King of Kings for 30 coins, but I no longer think this was his greatest sin. Matthew-Henry writes that Judas recognized his sin but had no apprehension of the Mercy of God and that Judas would have rather subjected himself to the mercy of the devil than of Gods. Thus he jumped into the fire to avoid the flame.

For a while every time I sinned it was getting easier and easier to think that God didn’t want to save me or even worse, He couldn’t. I don’t know if I am the only person who has thought that but if you are reading this and you find yourself in accordance with me, I urge you to take refuge in the Grace of God. Know that we are being matured and that we must trust God to be who He says he is. Judas’ sin was forgivable and our sin has been abolished, but we must recognize that the depth of God’s Grace delves so much deeper than any sin we could commit.

NOTE: I am definitely not saying that we should sin more so that grace may abound more. I am saying that we must pursue a walk in the Light, simply being mindful that if we stumble, God will pick us up, again and again. There isn’t a place we can go that it too far from His redemption, and there isn’t a line we can cross where we are no longer worth saving.

I really hope this helps someone and I love you Church!