Guilt ….Good or Bad?

guiltI did not pack enough bags for this guilt trip! I am not to blame and will certainly not feel bad about this! I wish they would stop making me feel so guilty. Have you ever said these words or had these thoughts? It is likely that if you are over the age of 3 that you have. No one likes to feel guilty. It’s an ugly feeling that starts in the bottom of your stomach and lingers until resolved. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves. Sometimes it is others in our life that seems content to constantly push guilt and shame our way. It is in these moments in life when a single word or look, like a sharp knife, slices thorough our emotions only to leave a sinking feeling of culpability behind.

Seeing that guilt leaves such an ugly mark, one would think that it is a bad thing, bad indeed and something to be avoided at all cost.

But is it all terrible? Can guilt be beneficial? Is it good or is it bad? The answer is yes.

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”

What things do you think Paul had to forget?  Was it his accomplishments in the flesh before salvation?  Maybe so.  After all he was a Pharisee of all Pharisees.  But just maybe it was his past sins.  After all, I can only imagine the guilt of his past must have plagued him. Maybe those things that were behind him were the memories of the many Christians that suffered and died at his own hands.  We all know how easy it is to feel guilty about past sins.  God forgives and forgets.  We try to, but yet Satan never does. The enemy loves to bring our faults and failures back up to us. It is this type of guilt that is bad, guilt from our past that has already been forgiven.

 But some guilt is necessary. The law of God makes the unbeliever guilty. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God,” Romans 3:19.

 Likewise, when a believer sins it is accompanied with guilt. “For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin,” Psalm 38:17-18.  This type of guilt is good. It is a necessary emotion given to us by God.  Picture it as a “check engine light” on the dashboard of your car.  It brings to your attention a problem under the hood.  It should be used to help us acknowledge our sins.  It should drive us to repentance.  But once we have done that we need to leave our guilt at the cross.

 Here is a sure way to tell if guilt is good or bad. Bad guilt – the kind that we need to let go of – will always push us away from God. It brings shame and makes us self focused. It hinders our spiritual walk and makes us ineffective for the Kingdom. However, be sure that good, godly, healthy guilt will drive us strait to the arms of God as His mercy and grace floods our hearts.

Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bad things…good people?

When a tragedy happens, like the recent one at a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, people start asking questions.  How can a 24 year old man walk into a theater, open fire, and brutally kill 12 innocent people and injure 58 more?  What led him to do such a horrendous act?  Where was God when this happened and why did He allow it?

I have no doubt that this was an atrocious, evil attack that was probably influenced by demonic activity.  And our hearts break for the family and friends of the victims.  Like the rest of the country, these things are on our mind.  We question.  We wonder.  We seek an answer for the calamity.  Yesterday after church we were talking about the shooting.  A friend was sharing that when something like this happens, without fail people ask the age old question.  “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  It was then my 9 year old son replies, “Why do good things happen at all?”

Did you catch that?  Why do good things happen at all?  He’s right.  You see, we ask the wrong question.   The question shouldn’t be why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? The truth is that as a whole there are no “good people”.  “There is none that doeth good, no, not one,” Romans 3:12.  We truly have a misconception that mankind is “good” and deserves God’s blessings.  But Jesus clearly set the standard for goodness.  “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God,” Luke 18:18-19.

Not only that, but bad things happen because we live in a sinful, wicked, depraved world.  To blame God for the world’s evil condition would be equivalent to blaming a car manufacturer for a wrecked vehicle due to reckless driving.  If we will be honest and look deep into the truth of God’s Word we would ask a different question all together.  Why does any good thing happen to us at all?  And the answer to that question is simply because of God’s great mercy.

“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;” Deuteronomy 7:9. 

“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee,” Psalm 86:5.

God is merciful and this is why any good thing happens.  Like the Psalmist in Psalm 136, I declare “his mercy endureth for ever.”  Can you say the same thing?  Has God extended His mercy toward you?  He is merciful to those that love Him and keep His commandments.  He is merciful and good and ready to forgive those that call upon His name.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” Hebrews 4:16.

The Grace Card

The Grace Card releases today (August 16) on DVD.  I have wanted to see this movie since it came out in theaters.  Friends had told me it was very good.  Last night I watched it with great expectations.   In a powerful way, the film dealt with sin on many levels such as race, pride, and anger. But in contrast, the film showed the prevailing love of God through grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

The message of grace flows throughout this movie.  It is a beautiful picture of the ultimate grace that was given to mankind.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8.

The movie is rated PG 13 for violence. Parents will need to use discretion in allowing younger children to watch the movie.  However, it can be used as a great teaching tool for older children in that it shows the reality of this sin laden world and consequences that follow. 

*I am giving away a DVD of The Grace Card to one of my readers on Monday, August 22nd.  To enter, just leave a comment on this blog about what God’s grace means to you and I will draw one winner.

  Movie Synopsis:

 Everything can change in an instant … and take a lifetime to unravel.

When Mac McDonald loses his son in an accident, the ensuing 17 years of bitterness and pain erodes his love for his family and leaves him angry with God … and just about everyone else.

Mac’s rage stonewalls his career in the police department and makes for a combustible situation when he’s partnered with Sam Wright, a rising star on the force who happens to be a part-time pastor and a loving family man.

Mac’s home life is as frightening as anything he encounters on the streets of Memphis. Money is tight and emotions run high as he constantly argues with his wife and his surviving son Blake, who is hanging with the wrong crowd and in danger of flunking out of school.

Sam Wright also never expected to be a police officer. He has a calling—to be a minister like his Grandpa George. But leading a small, start-up church doesn’t always put enough food on the table for a young family, so Sam doubles as a police officer. With his new promotion to Sergeant, Sam starts questioning if his real calling might actually be police work rather than the pastorate.

Can Mac and Sam somehow join forces to help one another when it’s impossible for either of them to look past their differences—especially the most obvious one?

Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships and heal deep wounds by extending and receiving God’s grace. Offer THE GRACE CARD … and never underestimate the power of God’s love

 

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:32.

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15.