This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. (NIV)
There are people who go through life feeling no shame, little guilt, shrugging off self-criticism and negative self-talk. Then there are others like you and me! We can so often find ourselves with guilty hearts. And so we may shrink from the presence of God and turn our backs on the grace of God.
There are two ways of developing a guilty heart. One is to recognise that we have truly gone astray. In which case the remedy is to fling ourselves on the promised mercy of God and embrace his forgiveness.
The other way is to start blaming ourselves for things which do not actually constitute “sin”. Not all our mistakes are sins. Not all that we feel guilty about is our responsibility. We can go into partnership with the great accuser, Satan, and heap loads of guilt on ourselves which we ought not to be bearing.
God knows the secrets of our hearts. If there is true guilt there, it can be dealt with. If there is false guilt, it need not prevent us drawing near to God with confidence. Our wise and good God is able to put his finger on what is truly wrong with us and yet brush aside that which we load on ourselves. Our holy and perfect God is a lot more gentle and merciful to us than we are to ourselves.