With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 The Message
Guilt is described as a sense of remorse or responsibility for some offense or wrong-doing, whether real or imagined. It plaques every one of us at one time or another and can become oppressive causing us to trudge instead of walk freely, to feel low and even worthless. It’s like wearing a stack of lead aprons, the kind the dentist lays on top of you when you’re about to have an x-ray.
Where does it come from? From other people? After all they can be judgmental and have certain expectations of us, or we can value their opinions of us far too much. Maybe sometimes. From ourselves? Each of us is probably our harshest critic and with help from our enemy, the devil, accuse ourselves ruthlessly. From God? After all He’s Ruler and King, Judge and our ever-watching Father. I don’t believe so.
God is holy. He is definitely the King of kings and Lord over everything, but He is also Love. I think real guilt happens when we realize and remember that we are sinners, that we miss the mark on our own, we fall short. God didn’t intend for us to continuously live in that guilt, however. I believe guilt is only a propeller that directs us to Him for forgiveness, a catalyst for change with Jesus’ help. Once we ask God to forgive us, He does. He promised He always would. (I John 1:9) Once we’ve been forgiven, He doesn’t condemn us anymore. He doesn’t watch us lives our pathetic lives shaking his head at us thinking we’re such a disappointment, such a pain. That’s what’s truly amazing and truly wonderful about Jesus being born, living on this earth, dying a criminal’s death (our punishment) and being raised to life! He wouldn’t have come for people he thought were pathetic and a pain.
When you sense a need to be with God more, a sense that you need more time with Him, that you need to know more about Him, that you have lots to learn and lots of growing to do, that’s not God piling on a lead blanket of guilt, that’s God loving you. He doesn’t call you with a voice of condemnation, but a voice of a Father’s love. He wants you near. He wants to know you love Him. He wants to remove those heavy guilt burdens and let you stand up tall and be free. He wants to see you grow into the person He meant you to be, but that person is one who is covered and free in forgiveness and love.
Don’t listen to the enemy when he tries to weigh you down and berate you. Don’t let him convince you to accuse yourself. Don’t resist coming to God for fear of a rebuke or anger, that’s not what you will receive. Go to God and leave fear behind at the door. Trust Him to help you, free you, forgive you and love you. That’s what He longs to do with all that He is. I believe it with all my heart.
There’s a song by Matthew West that my daughter, Krissy, and I heard the other day. After listening closely to the words we each looked at one another and realized we were both crying. It moved us because it was full of this same encouraging, freeing truth: Each of us is the reason why Jesus left heaven. You are the reason why he let Himself be shrunken to a tiny baby to grow inside a human womb and be born like all of us in blood, sweat and mess. You are the reason why He walked this earth among the people He made to set them free, heal them, restore them, give them hope. You’re the reason why he endured torture and ridicule and false accusations and death. Don’t feel guilty about that unless it pushes you into His waiting arms! Then let it go. He has.
Consider these words from that song:
I’m gonna walk around that broken Earth
trading in these streets of gold
So if you ever wonder how much you’re worth, you should know:
That you’re the reason why I’m leaving heaven.
Matthew West, The Heart of Christmas © 2011