Feb 14, 2012

Goodly Guilt

No one likes guilt and shame.

Guilt and shame are things to be avoided at all cost.

In our world of self-help and building self-esteem at all cost society, guilt and shame are are the opposite of happiness.

So our world does everything to avoid guilt and shame, and we do so unwittingly at the cost of losing our joy and freedom.

You see, guilt and shame is a good thing.

Before you shut me out, let me explain.

God says sin is bad. 

God says sin is bad because sin destroys. Sin kills. Sin wreaks havoc in relationships and in people's lives.

Sin is bad.

So God wired us in such a way that when a sin has been committed, we become miserable. We become miserable with guilt and shame so that the misery of guilt and shame caused by sin would prevent us from from sin to begin with, and so that we would seek forgiveness and experience the joy and freedom that comes from being forgiven.

Guilt and shame are God's built in warning signal that something is wrong and that we need to seek a remedy for what ails us.

The psalmist said it like this:
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then, I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity...and you forgave the guilt of my sin (Psalm 32:3-5).

That's how God wired us. 

When a sin is committed, we're supposed to be miserable with guilt and shame so that we can confess and seek forgiveness so that we can be free.

The goal is freedom. The goal is reconciliation. The goal is joy.

This is the way it worked for centuries for human beings.

That is, until modern day human beings at some point decided that we knew better than God. 

"Who needs guilt and shame?" we declared.

We hate how guilt and shame makes us feel. Guilt and shame are terrible things and they are to be avoided at all cost. 

We can move toward freedom and reconciliation without going through guilt and shame. 


It's easy. Minimize sin.

In fact, let's do away with sin. 

No sin = no guilt and shame.

But the problem is, no matter how much we pretend that sin is unnecessary and that guilt and shame are unnecessary, we're still broken. Lives are still messed up. Relationships are still fractured.

Because sin still destroys, kills, and wreaks havoc in relationships and for individuals even if we deny its existence.

By refusing to recognize sin and its destructive power, we have done away with the remedy for sin. We have no pathway for true freedom and genuine joy.

How do we correct this?

Call sin for what it is. 

Get back to looking at sin through the lens of a holy and awesome God.

For it's only by experiencing the incredible grace and mercy of being forgiven that we can move to responding with joy, grace, and mercy to one another.  

Don't minimize guilt and shame. 

Don't minimize sin.

Recognize and claim our role in the sorrow caused by sin. Let guilt and shame have its full affect so we would be moved toward seeking forgiveness. And experience the joy and freedom that comes from being forgiven.

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him (Psalm 32:1-2).

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