Guilt – What is it?
The dictionary defines the word "guilt" as a "feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined." Guilt is that part of the human conscience that brings us up short and convicts us for actions and thoughts. Guilt is an inherent human trait that should be seen as a gift, however, most of us do not see it as such and rather than deal with guilt, we naturally attempt to squelch it. However, guilt is that nagging voice with in us all that is like water upon a stone and is meant to bring us to a realization that there is a standard and we have fallen short, but whose standard is it?
Seeing guilt in its proper light allows us to understand that it is a safety valve for the human condition. Guilt means there is a right and wrong way for us to operate and there are standards of what is good and what is worthy of guilt. The guilt "gene" is something that we are born with. To illustrate this truth, just observe a small child.
Guilt – A Buzzing Problem
My daughter, at eighteen-months-old, loved to climb up into the window seat in the dining room. It was summer and with other children going in and out of the house, flies were a problem and flies liked the picture window above the window seat. My daughter was fascinated with flies and she attempted to catch them. As you can imagine, it was something that I would rather she not do and she was told "no" on numerous occasions. Whenever I caught her trying to catch the flies, I would admonish her. One day, she managed to catch one just as I walked into the room. She quickly put the offending fly into her mouth. When I asked her where the fly was, she shook her head. Her face was a picture of guilt and I could hear the fly buzzing inside of her pursed lips. I was able to free the fly by prying that little mouth open and the fly flew away. Guilt is like that fly, it keeps buzzing until we deal with it.
Guilt – The Remedy
There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with guilt. Trying to hide it, as my daughter did to that fly, does not work. Guilt is God's way of telling us that we fall short of His standard and agreeing with God's standard is the right way to free us of guilt.
What can you do when you are always feeling guilty? I can only speak from my own experience. Guilt brought me to the realization that I was a sinner (Romans 3:23). I also realized that I could not do anything about that on my own.
I would clear my mind by saying I was sorry or asking for forgiveness of those I offended, but that did not quiet the guilty feelings. Then someone told me about a cure for guilt. Someone told me that I could live without condemnation. I was told that I could bring my emotional feelings into balance by trusting in Someone else. That Someone else was the LORD Jesus Christ. It was then that I turned my life over to Him by believing in Him and accepting His gift of grace that saves me.
Now I am engaged in a relationship with Jesus that allows me to participate in a process of growing in faith. Now when guilt comes to me, I check my fellowship with God and if I have sin in my life, I confess it to God. Then I can walk in fellowship with God and the guilty feelings disappear. Having a relationship with Jesus does not make me perfect because I still sin. However, being a believer brings me truth that frees me from the condemnation of a guilty conscience that controls my emotions. Rather, I walk by His faith and He frees me from guilt. Trusting in God is the only real answer to freedom from condemnation and from being controlled by guilty feelings.
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