I’m not a big fan of guilt. It’s annoying! Every time I turn around, something is lurking around the corner that makes me feel guilty. What I eat – or shouldn’t, how much I exercise – or don’t, people I should have called – but didn’t and things I should have done today but left until tomorrow – or later. The list is never ending and so is the guilt and I know I am not alone in what I’m experiencing.
The Baltimore Sun has compiled an extensive group of articles they’ve written on the guilt people experience, covering everything from “mom guilt” to “survivors guilt” that includes people who have survived the current recession with their job still intact and those who have survived a plane crash when others didn’t. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/keyword/guilt. How to deal with guilt is the underlying question of a culture laden with it, because many lives are being ruined by it.
Guilt is an awful thing. Depending on the cause of guilt, the resulting shame and remorse can make living rather hard, even debilitating if it gets to be too much. There is no doubt that a lot of guilt is self-inflicted based on unrealistic expectations by others or ourselves. We need to learn to let go of that kind of guilt, or better yet, not let ourselves own it. However, sometimes, guilt is justified when brought about by wrong, immoral or illegal behavior. If that’s the case, what are the options?
In figuring out how to deal with guilt you could try to live with it, tell yourself it’s in the past and what’s done is done and move on with what is sure to be a less than joyous life. Or you could try to justify or minimize it, citing 30 different people you know who have done what you did or worse, making you feel much better by comparison. Or you could spend the rest of your life doing penance for it? (A lot of people do this without even realizing it.) If you’ve done something in your life you really regret, you know none of these are good options. Your guilt could eat you alive before you find relief going down one of those roads.
A better (actually your only true) option is to seek forgiveness from the One who is truly able to forgive you, God Himself. What causes guilt is sin and sin is anything contrary to what God would have us think, do or say! So, what that means then is all sin we commit is ultimately against God.
King David tells us that in Psalm 51:4 when he says “Against you and you only have I sinned and done that which is evil in your sight…” He was referring to the adultery he had committed with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband when trying to cover it up. Yes, there were people involved in his sins but first and foremost his sins were against God. As a result it was God’s forgiveness that he needed.
God not only forgives but He pardons and that’s where the freedom from guilt comes from. God, when he forgives, officially releases the offender from any further punishment of the offense and He even goes so far as to forget what we did. (He can do that as God!) Now, there still might be consequences from sin that can’t be avoided; cheating on a test could still result in failing the class, an adulterous affair may still result in the marriage breaking up and lying to a boss could mean the end of a job but it does not mean those can never be forgiven – or pardoned.
If we have a relationship with God, through His Son Jesus Christ, God promises us in I John 1:9
“If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought and action). Not only does He cleanse us but He removes our guilt.
Our culture is very good at managing things we don’t know how to fix. We “manage” disease and illness, pain and suffering. We try and “manage” our fear and anxiety and even our guilt. We spend so much wasted energy on managing things that God wants to heal, deliver us from or forgive us of and set us free. Living with guilt is not the way God intends for anyone to live. God paid the highest price possible, the death of His Son Jesus, for your forgiveness and release from guilt. Why then, would He not welcome your request to do so with open arms?
To receive a complimentary gift and find out more about pursing a relationship with God and experiencing His love that will truly set you free go to Living Life Set Free and discover how to deal with guilt.