For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, “I will not serve.” Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore. Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine? Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD. —Jeremiah 2:20-22
I wish I could tell you that people deal with guilt God’s way. The fact is, though, people don’t deal with guilt God’s way. Let’s look at some of the foolish things that people do to try to deal with their guilt. You may find one or more of these is uncomfortably familiar.
One of the foolish tactics is that people try to run from their guilt. That doesn’t work very well. They move to a different city, a different family, or a different job. But guilt tracks your moves. It’s your internal alarm. God gave that to you to help you to alert you to when you’re outside the boundaries. A lot of suffering is coming if you don’t resolve it.
Another “guilt management tool” is the cover up. “Maybe I can hide my guilt.” The problem is that it doesn’t work to cover it up. People try to hide guilt behind frantic activity and particularly religious activity. “I’m going to work at the church and I’m going to serve somehow. I’m going to give more.” Sometimes we even try to cover our guilt by smothering it with more unrighteous living. “I don’t care anymore! I’m just going to keep on sinning!” The people of Jeremiah’s time tried to cover up guilt as they became spiritually bankrupt.
We can also respond to guilt by trying to blame-shift. We’re like, “This is because of you.” But guilt has a way of coming back to us. I chose. And I’m responsible for the actions that I took. No matter how hard I try to put it onto somebody else, it’s coming back to me again.
How about this one? Just deny guilt. “I did nothing wrong. Nothing.” Try that for a while. It goes like this: “I did nothing, nothing, nothing . . . ” But it just doesn’t work. Guilt hangs in there.
God loves you. God made you with an internal alarm and you cannot run from it, cover it, blame-shift it, deny it. If you’re His child, He set you free and He wants to keep you free. Stop wasting guilt and use it as a push back to God. —James MacDonald
· Which of these tactics am I going to have to eliminate regarding guilt because I now know I’m not fooling anyone—particularly God?
· What happens with guilt when I respond to it the wrong way?
Prayer: Father in heaven, I realize these tactics to avoid guilt are almost instinctive with humans—certainly with me. I don’t want to use them, and yet I also know I will need Your Spirit’s help to rein me in or get my attention when I’m about to waste guilt by not making corrections, seeking forgiveness, and repenting before You. I know guilt will be much less of a problem for me if I start letting it do its corrective work in me. I know that will lead to Your blessings, which is what I really want! In Jesus’ name, Amen.