October 2, 2009
Guilt - the Gift that Keeps on Giving
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6 (NIV)
Friend to friend
When Frederick II, an eighteenth-century King of Prussia, went on an inspection tour of a Berlin prison, he was greeted with the cries of prisoners hoping and praying for leniency. They fell on their knees, pleading their cases, asserting their innocence and declaring their unjust imprisonment. While listening to these mournful pleas of innocence, Frederick's eye was caught by a solitary figure in the corner, a prisoner sitting quietly and all alone. "Why are you here?" Frederick asked him. "I am here for armed robbery, Your Majesty." "Are you guilty?" the king asked. "Oh yes, Your Majesty. I entirely deserve my punishment," the prisoner replied. Frederick called the jailer. "Release this guilty man at once," he instructed. "I will not have him kept in this prison where he will undoubtedly corrupt all of these innocent people."
When we come to Christ in a personal relationship, we are set free from guilt. Right? Then why do so many of us live each day waiting for God to "lower the boom"! The mental tapes play repeatedly in our mind, "There must be some sin I have not confessed. I really blew it! How can God really love someone like me? I feel so guilty!" Oh, friend! You are playing right into the hand of Satan himself! One of his favorite weapons of spiritual warfare is guilt. If we are guilt-ridden, we are powerless and impotent. Forgiveness seems like a pipe-dream. Love is an unmerited gift and peace only a dream.
A friend recently told me about a new product she found listed on the internet. "Disposable Guilt Bags" first appeared in a few select stores to test the market. I could have told the inventor that guilt exists in abundance and that people will go to any lengths to assuage their guilt. My friend explained that you could buy a set of Disposable Guilt Bags, ten ordinary brown bags on which were printed the following instructions: "Place the bag securely over your mouth then take a deep breath and blow out all of your guilt. Close the bag and dispose of immediately." The amazing part of this story is that the Associated Press reported that over 2500 kits had sold immediately at $2.50 per kit. Unbelievable! Actually, it isn't. Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving and we will do almost anything to escape it.
Nothing on this earth is powerful enough to erase guilt. We try to "fix" ourselves but fail. We try to "fix" others but fail. The only power that can eliminate guilt is God's grace. "In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death. And so we have forgiveness of sins because of God's rich grace." (Ephesians 1:7 NCV) When our lives are lived against the backdrop of grace, guilt will die from a lack of attention.
Father, I am so tired of feeling guilty! I desperately want to experience Your peace, Your love and Your forgiveness. I know I am not worthy of Your grace, but I also know that Your grace is a gift, bought and paid for on the cross by Jesus Christ. Please help me to live in the shadow of that cross, free from guilt.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Set aside some time today to spend with God. On a sheet of paper, list the areas of your life that are sources of guilt. Is there a sin you need to confess? Confess it and accept God's forgiveness. Is there a lie you need to abandon? Let it go right now. Is there someone you need to forgive? Choose to forgive that person. Has someone hurt you? Forgive them and release the hurt.
Thank God for His love, His peace and His grace. Write out your prayer and read it each day this week.
More From The Girlfriends
Today's devotion is especially important to me because for so long, I allowed guilt to hold me prisoner. Looking back, I'm not really sure why. I just felt guilty ... about almost everything. Girlfriend, accept God's gift of grace right now and lay down your guilt today. Sharon, Gwen and I are celebrating with you - the freedom Christ brings. Amen!
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