Who wants to set herself up for being publicly slammed, shamed, or shunned? Not me, that’s for sure. And I imagine your feelings about public humiliation are pretty much the same as mine.
If our only experiences with being told we’ve made a mistake come from the bosses we’ve had, the trolls on social media, or the people we accidentally cut off on the freeway, the idea of freely giving ourselves over to God’s evaluation of our choices may seem a terrifying prospect. We may expect God to handle correction the same way we do: shaming, blaming, discouraging. But we would do well to flip the script and let the way God does things serve as our example.
When God corrects us, his discipline radiates toward us as a reflection of his character, which is love (1 John 4:8). When God points out where we’ve missed the mark, his goal is to lovingly convince us his way is better—for us and for others. We feel a gentle nudge somewhere close to our heart (or our gut or in the back of our head), and we know it’s time to reconsider, reevaluate, and recommit that area of ourselves to him. This process of conviction—God coming to us in the quiet places and leaning in closely with soft eyes and a gentle voice—brings us into agreement with him. We realize that, yes, we have indeed fallen short.
Conviction is when God shows us where we got off track and, because we agree we’ve taken a wrong turn, God lovingly sets us back on the right road. God points out our missteps because of his great love for us. He desires an intimate relationship with each of us; he leans in close, inviting us to clear away the obstacles that obscure our view of him. Even in his discipline of us, God’s motivation is love. God is always, always calling us to himself.1