Grateful for the Gift of Guilt?
Guilt is a gift, but it’s probably not on your Christmas wish-list. It’s certainly not on mine.
We all know guilt can become an unbearable burden. Ask any psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or clergyman about the grievous perils of long-term guilt.
Look around. How many downcast eyes do you see? Count the pointed fingers, as we accuse others of faults we hate most in ourselves.
Seriously? Guilt is a gift? You’ve got to be kidding.
Guilt can be good, but only for a moment. It all depends on what we do with it.
If we tuck our guilt away in a secret spot within our souls and let it fester, it is likely to ferment into shame, discouragement, bitterness and despair.
But if we allow ourselves to feel the grief that comes with guilt, it can be a springboard to survival. A moment of guilt can open our hearts to repentance, which allows us to receive forgiveness and enjoy reconciliation with God and others.
The Apostle Paul put it this way:
“For the kind of sorrow
God wants us to experience
leads us away from sin
and results in salvation.
There's no regret for that kind of sorrow.”
(1 Corinthians 7:10a, NLT)
God hates our guilt – probably even more than we do.
I think it breaks the Father’s heart to see us trudging along with heavy loads of remorse and regret. He hates to see His children hurting, particularly when it’s not necessary.
God already paid for our guilt, so it must upset Him when we try to carry the costs of a purchase He has already made.
I witnessed a similar frustration recently, although on a much smaller scale.
Yesterday, I stood in a crowded checkout line in a large discount store, right smack in the middle of the holiday shopping season, behind a harried and hurried mother with her preschooler son. The boy repeatedly pulled a Christmas puzzle out of the bagger’s hand and put it back on the tram.
“Your mom already paid for that,” the cashier reminded the youngster, as she handed the purchased item back to the bagger.
This happened three times before the mom corrected the child.
At first, I found myself rolling my eyes and frowning at the shopper behind me. We both chuckled at the apparent folly. Then I realized the truth.
Don’t we play the same game with God?
Jesus, the Babe in the manger that came to die to save us from sin, has already paid the price for our guilt. That’s the amazing gift of Christmas and Easter and every day of our lives. But we take our guilt off the cashier’s conveyor, so to speak, and try to hold it in our own hands.
Why can’t we just let God tuck our forgiven sins into the bag and toss them away? Actually, He has already done exactly that. The work is finished (see John 19:30). We just pretend it’s not.
If we’ve given our guilt to Him, accepting the completed redemption offered by the crucified and resurrected Savior, the Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, then it’s gone.
Any guilt we choose to carry now is false guilt. And that’s no good at all.
Remember the frustrated mom with her persistent preschooler? Why should she pay twice for the same puzzle? As God’s children, why would we insist on paying for our puzzling guilt, if He’s already borne the unfathomable cost? God would rather have us adoring Him for His love and mercy.
True guilt is a gift, if it leads us into His arms, so He can take it off our backs with his own nail-scarred hands.
“He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds you are healed.”
(1 Peter 2:24, NLT)
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