Over the years in pastoral counseling, I've found that one of the greatest inhibitors to spiritual growth is guilt stemming from failure in efforts at discipline. People desire to grow, they try, they fail, they feel guilty, and eventually, guilt drives them to begin again.
In those instances, I have counseled each person to begin each day anew. Instead of guilt being a motivator, I have encouraged these persons to consider and think about grace. Failure is in the past, new life lies ahead. Performance is not determinative for salvation, rather, Christ's perfect and past work, which is finished, has secured everything we need. And Christ has promised to be with us. The desire to grow is given by God. When we fail, we start fresh, believing that God will bring the work begun in us to completion.
Frank Laubach, in Letters by a Modern Mystic, captures this well:
This conscious, incessant submission to God has proven extremely difficult, and I have surrendered for the past few days. And today and yesterday I saw evidences of the result. In an effort to be witty, I have said biting things which have hurt the feelings of others, and have been short and impatient. I tremble, for I have told at least one of these men of this experiment, and he will think this is the result. It is very dangerous to tell people, and yet, I must tell and I must start over now and succeed. This philosophy that one can begin all over instantly and at any moment is proving of great help.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (MSG) reminds us:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
Grace given. Fresh daily.