True guilt is a good thing. But if you aren’t careful, it can go sour on you. Let me explain by telling you about Steve. (Track back to read more from this series)
Steve has a drinking problem. He never thought it would happen to him. He got started in college with his buddies. He thought after college things would change but he found old habits die hard. Steve realized he didn’t have the self-control he thought he had.
Steve was a Christian who wanted to honor God. But things got out of control
and he didn’t know how to get back on track. Interestingly enough, Steve’s faith in God was a part of the problem. He felt so ashamed of his failure that he drank more to try to cover the guilt. It was a vicious cycle. The more he drank the guiltier he felt. The guiltier he felt the more he drank.
But after a while… Steve stopped feeling guilty. He just accepted that he was a drinker and resigned himself to a life without God. It wasn’t what he wanted, but it was a lot better than feeling guilty all the time.
Steve’s story describes a lot of people; just change the name and the problem and Steve might be someone you know or Steve might even be you. Instead of a drinking problem it might be a problem with food, pornography, gambling, shopping, anger, or a number of things.
Does Guilt Define Your Life?
Whatever the problem, the common denominator with Steve and all of us who struggle with these things is guilt. Guilt defines our lives and pushes God away. Somehow I don’t think that’s what God had in mind for us. Do you?
What if Steve could live a life free from guilt? How do you think Steve’s life would change if he knew that he was completely forgiven and God accepted him unconditionally, warts and all?
More importantly, how would your life change if you knew that you were completely forgiven and accepted unconditionally? I’m not talking about being free from all guilt. Some guilt is good. Guilt helps us recognize that we’ve done something wrong and helps us to take ownership of our problems.
I’m talking about the guilt that lingers and often turns to shame. I’m talking about the feeling that hangs on you like a scarlet letter and makes you want to avoid anything remotely associated with God.
Don’t Drink Sour Guilt
True guilt has a short shelf life. That is: once guilt serves its purpose in getting you to see your wrong and change, it starts to spoil. It’s like milk that sours… it turns from being helpful to being hurtful. You’ve got to throw it out.
But many people keep drinking the sour milk of guilt thinking it’s the right thing to do… even the godly thing to do. They just assume that all guilt is from God and so they embrace it like it’s their penance for bad behavior. Big mistake.
If you’ve made the mistake of consuming old guilt, do the right thing: throw it out! If you’ve made the necessary changes then there’s no need for guilt. Let it go and enjoy the forgiveness of God.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Question: Have you been drinking sour guilt? Why is that? Leave your comment below.
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