Photo by alvimann on Morgue File.
Share a time when you were overcome with guilt. What were the circumstances? How did you overcome your guilt?
I don’t know that there has ever been a time I could say I was overcome with guilt. Have I felt guilt before? Yes. But, I am not one to give much place to guilt in my life. Guilt, I believe, is often a negative emotion that has no real value. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I don’t think we should be responsible for our actions and words; I certainly do. But often times, guilt ravages a person’s emotional and mental state; to the point they are unable to function in any worthwhile way.
Guilt can be a prison that is hard to escape.
I am a Christian. I believe the Bible teaches us that God will bring conviction and discipline into his child’s life, when it is needed. However, I think this is a different thing from guilt. It seems to me, Godly conviction is far more productive and proficient in my life. It spurs me to confess my sin and repent. It brings forgiveness and God’s grace. It restores my fellowship with him. In fact, the Bible speaks of a godly sorrow and a worldly sorrow. I would understand guilt, as usually experienced, to be the latter. (Though, this may not be true all the time.)
The times when I have felt guilt, it felt more self-imposed. It didn’t seem to have any redeeming quality to it. It was a burden. When given time to reflect, I was able to see that much of what was causing my guilt was unhealthy views and attitudes of myself. I would blame myself for things that I really had no control over at all. I would think, I should have done this, or, I should have done that. When I really examined it though, it dawned on me much of this was self-inflicted guilt.
I”m sure there are times where guilt can be healthy. And, someone may wish to define guilt as I have discussed Godly conviction in the heart and life of a believer. But, from my experience there has been a difference.
I have known people who have beat themselves up for something they thought they should have done. They carried this guilt, this baggage with them for years and years. In reality, there was nothing they could have done to change the outcome of those events. The guilt they felt was a harsh sentence that brought only turmoil and depression into their lives.
I have known people with such guilt over the loss of a loved one. They will make comments like, Oh, I should have told them I loved them more. Or, I should have been there for them more. Of course, we could all say these type of things. We could all say I love you more often. We could all spend more time with our loved ones. And, it may be something we need to do. But, in many cases, it was just an emotional self-abuse; thinking, the worse they made themselves feel, the better the situation would become. But, it didn’t.
When we wrong someone, when we fail in our responsibilities, we should feel remorse (guilt if you wish to call it that). We should seek forgiveness and set our to make it right. Once we do, it is time to move on with our lives. Guilt will plague us for as long as we let it. It is like a drug that has long-lasting effects.
I am thankful Christ has brought love and forgiveness. He has freed me from the burden of my guilt: the guilt of my sin and rebellion against him. He has brought redemption and grace. This grace and forgiveness is available to any and all who will confess him as Savior and Lord. It is a new life to be set free from the burden of guilt.
You may be guilty, but God is ready and willing to forgive.