Guilt can paralyze us! Guilt can cause us to doubt God. Guilt can kill our joy and peace. Guilt can isolate us from others. Guilt can even bring us to the point of taking our own lives.
What causes guilt in our lives? Guilt is caused by our own sins. Guilt also occurs because of regrets in our life. We think of things that we could have done in our life that we never did. Guilt is also caused when we feel as though we failed those whom we love.
Guilt never brings us to God, but takes us further away from Him. We often confuse guilt with conviction. Conviction comes from God. His purpose is to bring us back to Himself. His conviction says: “Yes, you have sinned, but you can repent and confess your sin to me and you will be completely cleansed and forgiven” (See 1 John 1:9)
Guilt doesn’t come from God, but from within ourselves. Also, guilt can come from others who want to manipulate us to do their bidding. Lastly, guilt can come from Satan, who is called the “accuser of the brethren”. Whatever the source of our guilt it must not find a home in our lives.
What can we do with our guilt? “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.” (Psalm 25:7) We can take our sin and guilt to God and leave it there. His mercies are new every day. When we come to God with a repentant heart, He will never send us away unforgiven. He assures us time and time again of His love and mercy. He will never hold our confessed sin against us.
A Prayer Concerning Our Guilt “Dear Father, I thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. I thank you for your love that never quits on me. You know the regrets, the guilt, the sins that have come into my life time and time again. You have seen the results of my guilt. Yes, I have tried to deal with my guilt on my own, but without success. Father, you alone can take my guilt and shame from me. You alone can restore the confidence, joy and peace in my life when I deliver all my guilt unto you. Thank you for your work of restoration and cleansing in my life. Amen.”
“I can’t forgive them.” “What they did to me is unforgivable.” “I won’t ever speak to them again.” ” I can’t forget how much they hurt me.” What do all these statements have in common? They show an individual who has a bitter spirit.
Bitterness has destroyed many people because it enslaves them to the object of their bitterness. They have no freedom to enjoy their walk with God and others. A bitter person can infect their family, their workplace or even their church with their attitude. “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;” (Hebrews 12:15)
God has not only given us a cure for bitterness, but He has also modeled this cure. This cure is called forgiveness. The word forgiveness means “to send away”. The idea is that we throw the bitter attitude out of our lives; never to retrieve it again. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with allmalice:” (Ephesians 4:31)
God gives us three reasons to cast out bitterness and embrace forgiveness.
1. Christ has forgiven us. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32) No matter what anybody has done to us, it is nothing compared to all of our sinful offenses towards God.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant is a great illustration of the above truth. The landowner forgives his servant an enormous debt; yet this forgiven debtor is unwilling to forgive his follow servant a very small debt. (Matthew 18:21-35) How can we talk about God’s mercy and not share that mercy with others?
2. Christ commands us to forgive others. “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.“(Colossians 3:13) A bitter spirit is a disobedient spirit. When we forgive a person in our heart, we are walking in obedience to Christ.
3. Christ is our example of demonstrating forgiveness. When Christ was being mocked upon the cross, He didn’t respond with anger and bitterness. He called out to His Father: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) When we forgive those who have hurt us, we are acting like our Savior. These people didn’t ask Christ to forgive them, but yet Christ poured out His forgiveness towards them.
Forgiveness is difficult for us because we think that the offended party is “let off the hook”. In reality, we are let off the hook. We are now free to live our lives without being controlled by our bitterness. God shows us the following blessings of extending forgiveness to others.
We have a testimony before others. “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11)
We show God’s love towards others. Charity “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7)
We will have a joyful heart. “Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
We will enjoy true Christian fellowship. “To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;” (2 Corinthians 2:10)
Forgiveness is our choice. We can continue to feel hurt and embittered, or we can choose forgiveness. The offending party may never ask for forgiveness, but we can forgive them in our heart. Many persons have lived a miserable life because they chose not to forgive someone. Is your bitterness worth it?
“Dear Lord, you felt the pain of rejection, hatred, misunderstanding and ridicule; yet you forgave. Help me, to forgive those who have hurt me. My bitter spirit has not only hurt me, but those around me. I have lost the joy in my life. Lord, in my heart I now forgive _____________. Thank you for your forgiveness towards me when I don’t deserve it. From now on, help me to exercise love towards even those who have hurt me. Amen.”
NOTE: This is the sixth post in the series “Moving Beyond”. Please check out the other posts in this series.
I have enjoyed riding a bicycle since I was a child. There are three things that can make a bike ride an unpleasant experience: Careless drivers, dogs,
and bumpy roads.
Eaton County (where I live) has many unpaved roads that are quite bumpy. These roads may have some attractive scenery, but they also can make a bike ride an unpleasant experience. Likewise, in the road of life, people that we know face bumpy roads. These roads can bring discouragement, heartache, pain, danger and failure.
How sensitive are we to people who are traveling a bumpy road? How can we smooth out the bumps in the lives of others? A gentle spirit can smooth out the bumpy roads in the lives of others. The Apostle Paul says: “Let your moderation (gentleness) be made known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5) One Person defined gentleness as: “Showing personal care and concern in meeting the needs of others.” Do we interact with people in gentleness or in harshness?
I am glad that Jesus deals with me in gentleness when I face some bumpy roads in my life. However, how often do I make the effort to deal with others in a spirit of gentleness? Here are some of the ways that we experience Christ’s gentleness in the bumpy roads of our life.
1. He forgives me when I sin against Him. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” (1 John 1:9) Do I forgive others willingly when they sin against me?
2. He never leaves me when life gets rough. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5) Do I stick by others when the going gets tough in their lives?
3. He gives me strength to carry on. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) Do I help others carry their burdens or do I add to their burdens? “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
4. His Word encourages me to move forward. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 15:58) Do I encourage others with my words? Some of these words can be: “You can do it.” “I am praying for you.” “I thank the Lord for you.” 5. His Love is unconditional. Christ’s love is always there because his love is not based upon my behavior, but upon His character.“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35) Do I continue to show love to others even when it would seem easy to turn away from them?
There are many people who are facing a bumpy ride in this life. Are we willing to go the extra mile and show gentleness towards them? This will be a great way to smooth out their bumpy ride. Our gentleness can be considered the shock absorber of life.
Some thought questions about gentleness
(From “Character Clues BookshelfGame“)
1. Do those you correct walk away motivated or discouraged?
2. Do people avoid you when they know they have disappointed you?
3. Do you take the time to build a friendship along with correction?
4. Do those who work with you feel that you are committed to them or to getting the job done?