Many people are held back and held down by things, and we don’t want our history to keep us from our destiny. This week I am going to focus on guilt.
My natural inclination to feel guilty; if someone says to me “I need to see you” , my first thought is “What have I done?”
It is Mother’s day today and guilt goes with the job title.
It is a huge job and we can’t possibly be all that we would like to be.
Maybe things don’t work out as we dream for our family and we feel guilty. None of us are perfect and so we let ourselves down as parents.
There are other things that we feel guilty about, some of them we are too ashamed to talk about; telling a secret, letting someone down, being harsh, violent or rude. Some of us carry guilt around for years and it blights our lives. Jesus came to set us free from guilt and shame.
In the last few weeks we have looked at some of those aspects of our human natures that we don’t want to see and that we don’t want to be.
There is plenty to feel guilty about. We even feel guilty when we are victims. For example victims of abuse may feel it was their fault, and guilt clings to them. We may find it difficult to forgive and harbour hate or bitterness and feel guilty about that. If we are not careful guilt will eat us alive.
God does not want this. His desire is for us to recognise where we have gone wrong, be truly sorry and do all we can not to do wrong again.
Jesus came to set us free from guilt and shame. Many of us in this room are parents. We see our children do wrong. They might squabble and fight, they may hurt each other, lie or steal. When they’re caught in the act we tell them off and try to let them see the error of their ways.
We might send them to their room to think about what they have done.
We don’t want them to languish there forever. We want them to be sorry;
Repentant if you like. Parents want to be able to forgive them and let them move forward in their little lives. So God as our perfect parent wants to set us free. He doesn’t want us to languish forever with guilt.
Jesus came to earth to teach us about many things; but love and forgiveness were at the heart of his message and his life.
Guilt is talked about throughout the Bible and I am going to talk about a Psalm that King David wrote when he had been confronted with his sin of adultery and murder. He is feeling very guilty and wants God to forgive him. You can read this by clicking here
David pleads for mercy because he knows that God is loving and compassionate. He doesn’t please on his own merits. In Verse 3 David is talking about the sort of thing that we experience. We know that we have done wrong and the guilt won’t go away. Sin is with us and a part of our nature from birth. Selfishness, jealousy, and aggression are things that we see in tiny children, all the way through our lives we struggle with our baser nature. David is saying here that we also know better. We have been created with a conscience and when we fall we need to be cleansed.
Verse 8 refers to the way that guilt can take away our joy and make us miserable. Guilt also makes us feel distant from God. Like a child we hide from the parent we have offended. David wants that joy restored and knows that he needs to be sustained by God’s spirit.
How do we get rid of Guilt?
We have to face up to our faults instead of avoiding looking. Sometimes we avoid it by criticising others. But when we are able to face ourselves we are able to say sorry. We may not be able to say sorry to the person we have hurt. Sometimes it is not appropriate. We should if we can but not if it will hurt them even more. But we can say sorry to our heavenly father.
We are coming up to Easter; that time of year when we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our release from guilt doesn’t come cheap. The Bible tells us that we are not perfect. But we don’t need the Bible to tell us this. God our perfect Father wants to give us forgiveness but the offences need to be paid for. That is what the cross is about.
Jesus takes our punishment, the consequences of our sins upon himself.
So that we can be set free. We need to recognise our offenses and be truly sorry and determine with God’s help to not fall in that way again. But we also need to accept that forgiveness and restoration. Sometimes it is a constant prayer as we fall and pick ourselves up with God’s help and fall again. It may be that we have to keep saying sorry until we eventually overcome with God’s help. Our freedom from guilt came at a high price don’t let it go to waste.