If you had to guess – how many times a month would you estimate that you do something you don’t want to do out of
Guilt – the word itself feels like a gavel pounding on the table and the fingers pointing in my direction. It’s your fault…you should have…you shouldn’t have…you blew it…you better do it or else….
Being a people pleasing kind of gal I have often struggled with feelings of guilt. I was born trying to make people happy and if people aren’t happy – then I must be guilty. I am pretty familiar with accepting the the “Go to Jail” card as I tuck my tail between my legs and make my way to the doghouse. But lately I am learning that the verdict is not always what I believe it to be.
How do we know whether the “guilt” is the Holy Spirit nudging us in the right direction – or if it is simply unnecessary guilt? And how do we know whether to act upon it or ignore it?
I have gathered a few thoughts for all of my “guilty as charged” friends in hopes that you will learn how to discern those guilty feelings.
#1 – Am I guilty?
Learn to discern the voice of the Lord. Ask Him the question: Does this guilt belong to me?
Be willing to accept His answer. If you are guilty – own it. Confess it to the Lord and to the offended party if there is one. Then – leave it at the foot of the cross. Make immediate changes in your life and move forward with Christ in your newly found freedom.
#2 – Am I guilty of a crime if … ???
How many times have you done something for someone because you felt guilted into it, whether by yourself or them, and discovered that it didn’t benefit either of you in the end?
We should not do things we don’t want to do because we feel we “have to“. Only do things if A) you want to or B) if Jesus compels you to do so.
There are times when Jesus compels us to do things that we don’t want to do – and in this case we should seek to obey Him. It is critical that we learn to discern His voice so that we will follow His lead rather than follow our guilt. When we follow a nudge from the Lord we will be blessed every time.
#3- If I feel condemned, it is not from the Lord.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1
The Lord convicts rather than condemns. If we feel shame or pressure to do something it is not from Him. The Holy Spirit convicts, nudges, and offers solutions. He doesn’t make you feel bad or guilty – but inspires you to be better. He gently whispers things like, “Why don’t you give her a call?” “Pray for them” “Set Godly boundaries” “Apologize” “Make changes in your life” “Say – yes” Say – no” “Let go of this” “Own this” “You can do this…I will help you…I love you”.
Guilt hands us the “Go To Jail Card”. Conviction offers the “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Guilt makes us feel like a little kid in trouble. Conviction enables us to behave like a grownup. Guilt makes us feel weak and powerless. Conviction gives us strength to be accountable and offers new hope. Guilt makes us feel like a failure – conviction convinces us that we can be better.
A few weeks ago I was a part of an intervention for my very close friend who had been struggling with alcohol. I knew that when a person is confronted in this type of situation that even if they become free from alcohol oftentimes they break relationships with the people who were a part of the intervention. They feel so much guilt and shame that they end up beginning a new life without the people who were involved. I was deeply concerned that being a part of the intervention could destroy our relationship.
A few days later I received an amazing, gracious letter from my friend. She thanked me for caring enough to help her. She acknowledged how difficult it must have been for me to be a part of the intervention and received my presence as a testimony of my love for her. She said it was a huge wake up call for her and that it inspired her to change her life and to live a new normal.
She didn’t play the victim. She was accountable for herself. She was gracious. And the last time I saw her she had the ole’ sparkle back in her eyes.
My friend didn’t let the guilt take her down and she didn’t point fingers back at anyone else. She listened to people who loved her and she accepted the truth spoken to her from the Lord. She left her sin and guilt at the foot of the cross and is moving forward in miraculous ways. I cannot describe the respect and admiration I have for her. She is excited to see what the Lord has in store for her and she is now free from alcohol and free in Christ.
Guilty Christians are not joyous Christians. They cannot enjoy close fellowship with the Savior. They cannot be bold in witness. They cannot confidently disciple others. They usually end up living as hypocrites, putting up a front in fear that the truth about their sin will be exposed.
So next time when you hear the old voices whispering in your ear….guilty, guilty, guilty…you blew it…you are wrong…Ask the Lord: is this is true? If it is true – acknowledge it, act on it, and make apologies when necessary. Then -leave it at the cross and move on.
If it is not true – ask the Lord to give you the words and the strength to do only the things that He has in mind for you to do.