God Doesn’t Use Guilt & Neither Should You
I was the queen of making myself feel guilty for so many different reasons. I didn’t do well on an exam. I said something disrespectful to my then boyfriend/now husband. I haven’t done laundry in two weeks. I am a mess & should have my life together at least a little bit by now. I would get in my own head and make a continual list of how I messed up and let others down.
But then I began to realize that the phrase, “making myself feel guilty,” was just that- making MYSELF feel the guilt. I never had a definitive moment of realization that guilt controlled me. No light bulb moment or sermon or song or confrontation. Just a slow and building consciousness that it was guilt that drove me to feel and think nasty things about myself.
So I did what I do when I am truly trying to understand something- a word study.
I love words. I love sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters and books. I love reading and now love writing. I love researching origins and context of words or phrases. And that is how I have learned to love the Bible more.
I opened up my Bible, flipped the heavy pages to the end and went to my concordance. I looked up every single instance of guilt that was in the bible and analyzed two components of the chapter and verse. I looked at the context of guilt- was someone feeling guilt, was is in reference to sin, etc. Then I took at the function of the guilt- what was it used for, to prove a point, to make someone feel shame, etc. I found two resounding conclusions:
God does not use guilt
There is always more love and forgiveness than guilt.
Anytime guilt is mentioned, it is either as a 1) result of sin, 2) a function of showing right and wrong, 3) displaying the seriousness of blasphemy 4) talking about Old Testament guilt offerings. It is never God using guilt. Even in the Old Testament, he created a way for guilt to be removed by an animal sacrifice. When Jesus came, He removed the need for that sacrifice. Our relationship with Him was the answer to our guilt.
Now it is easy to say that God uses guilt as a result of sin to show us how we were wrong. And while initially it is easy to agree with that, God revealed to me this- sin is a choice. We make all of our decisions because of the beautiful use of free will that God in his grace has given each of us. And we feel guilt because we have gone against who and what God inherently is. It is a result of our choice, not a decision by God to make us feel bad.
Guilt is used by the devil because it shuts us down. It renders us useless of any worth and paralyzes our minds. We don’t feel good enough- not good enough to pray, evangelize, read our bibles, or any other opportunity we have to be His hands and feet. The use of guilt going against God’s very character. He wants us to feel joy, to overflow with love and to speak truth.
And because God doesn’t use guilt, neither should we. He, who has done so much more for us than we have done for him, has the “right” to use guilt in our minds. But that is how we think of guilt, not how he thinks. Guilt is an easy but dangerous tool. It presents itself opportunities everyday- with our friends, spouses, roommates, siblings, parents. It knocks at our mind’s door with the opportunity for temporary satisfaction.
Guilt could mean passive aggressive language, strong glances, harsh words, or making someone feel less than. Whatever it is- nothing good comes from giving or receiving guilt.
But as I said before, there is always more love and forgiveness than guilt. Take this verse in Hebrews for example:
When coming into God’s presence, He wants us to be rid of guilt. He wants us to be free, to feel full of who He is instead of what we feel. There is no part of God that wants us to be riddled with something so toxic and life taking. He is full of beauty and grace that is the opposite of guilt.
Remember when you feel guilt that God is not trying to punish you. He is not holding your sin over you or waiting until you do something for Him so your guilt will go away. He wants you to be free.
Guilt is not from God.