Monday, May 15, 2017

Men, Women, and Guilt

Understanding Guilt

It seems men and women handle guilt quite differently. Don't they? It might not surprise you because God did create us with different natures and we often respond in different ways to the world around us, especially where emotions are concerned--and guilt is a emotion. 

I often envision us women carrying our guilt backpacks with us all the time, collecting guilt as we go. These backpacks are stuffed full with everyday guilt's we accumulate without even noticing. These guilt's usually come in the form of saying "I'm sorry" and feeling responsible for events and situations that are not our fault. In other words, "If I'm accused, I must be guilty."

Unloading Guilt

How can we respond to these feelings of guilt? We need to break out of our old habit of apologizing for things for which we are not guilty. Remember, you can empathize--that is, put yourself in someone else's shoes--without apologizing. 

Refusing Undeserved Blame

Could it be that you have allowed others to shift their blame to you for so long that you have become their dumping ground? That goes back to our nurturing natures, our desire to make everything right, and our tendency to feel guilty when accused without examining the facts. 

As we learn to stop apologizing for things not in our control, we don't have to lose our tender hearts, our compassionate tendencies, or our sympathetic ears in order to git rid of guilt. We certainly don't want to become so defensive that we can never say, "I'm sorry." We are women, and while we don't need to roar, we do need to treasure the special attributes that God gave us and use them wisely.

If you recognize that you take on guilt from others far too readily, then you've made an important first step toward changing that bad habit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What is False Guilt?

What is False Guilt?
Good question.  False guilt is a guilt we impose upon ourselves. We allow it to take root in our minds, to start causing all kinds of bad feelings, to feed us all kinds of lies, and we begin to believe it.
False guilt is a "feeling" that is not grounded in truth, but nonetheless strong and real. To help you better understand what false guilt is, look at these examples:
  • what we experience when we keep remembering what God has forgiven and forgotten.
  • what we feel when someone appears to be disappointed in us.
  • what we feel when we have to say no.
  • what we feel when we try to please people and fail.
  • what we feel when we live with unrealistic expectations of ourselves.
  • what we feel when we allow others to dictate what and who we should be.
One of the first signs that you are dealing with false guilt is that you just can't pinpoint exactly why you feel guilty. 

Remember, if God is not condemning you, you have no reason to let anyone else condemn you - no even yourself. I would urge you to memorize Romans 8:1, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," and Isaiah 43:25: "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

So, don't live in condemnation. Stand up to the false guilt in your life and declare you are no longer under its power.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Confronting True Guilt


True Guilt vs False Guilt
Do you know the difference between true guilt and false guilt?
True guilt is what we feel when God convicts us of some area in our life that needs to be changed, and we are resisting that change. The longer we resist obeying God, the heavier the burden of true guilt becomes.  We try to deny it and bury it or we try to keep so busy that we don't have time to think about it.

The Effects of True Guilt
True guilt not only affects our feelings but can affect our physical health too. In Psalm 38 we find one of Scriptures' most vivid descriptions of the effects of true guilt. King David felt guilty because he had done wrong, and his guilt took a toll on him. "...My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear...."  King David had been harboring this true guilt for months.

God's Remedy for True Guilt
Our heavenly Father does not want us to live with the burden of guilt.  The incredible good news of the gospel is that Jesus came to offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice and become our once-and-for-all guilt offering. Romans 8:1 says, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Blooming Where You're Planted


by Mary Lowman

Recently I had an opportunity to talk to a senior citizen, Betty, in her 80’s, who is an inspiration to me.  Betty is a widow and a mom of three grown children and lots of grandchildren.  She is a Jesus-lover from way back, and at this stage in her life, she is finding creative ways to reach out to others with the love of Jesus.

Betty’s husband died after a very long illness where she was his main caregiver.  This was a daily “dying to self”, as she dedicated all her time and energy to helping him after a massive stroke.  It took its toll on her physically, as she had to lift him and help him maneuver.  “But,” she told me, “because of that my upper body became very strong.”  Then, when she had to have open heart surgery after her husband’s death, her doctor said it was a miracle she was still alive.  “It was because I had such strong upper body that I was able to survive that surgery,” she said. “So, you see, it was good that I had helped my husband all that time.”

Now that she lives alone and is still driving, she has found a way to continue to share the love of Jesus with others.  She goes to the grocery store every day.  She said, “That way I don’t have heavy bags to carry if I just get a few things each day.  And then, I just go up and down the aisles of the store, to see who God puts in my path that day.” 

Betty uses her daily trips to the grocery as a way to meet people, to offer encouragement, to pray for people, and to let them know that Jesus loves them.  Almost every day she has an opportunity to speak to someone—mostly strangers—and simply offer a moment of caring and concern.  She has story after story of the people she has met in this way, and how blessed she is to have this ministry.

Just knowing Betty is to see an example of what it means to “Rejoice always,” as Paul exhorts us.  As we sat together after the funeral of her beloved daughter-in-law—and my niece—and as we recalled how much we loved her and would miss her, Betty found the bright side of the occasion and her attitude of blooming where she is planted challenged and inspired me.

It’s not so much the big things we do for Jesus that makes a difference; it’s the way we reach out in our everyday lives—on our jobs, in our families, and yes, as we walk the aisles of the grocery store. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Can We Live Guilt-free Lives?

Has your life been hounded with guilt? 

Living with Guilt
A life burdened under a load of guilt is not the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. Guilt steals our joy, hinders our productivity, interrupts our peace, harms our relationships, and worst of all, makes us self-focused. Guilt leads to dissatisfaction and discontent.

What is Guilt?
Guilt is both a fact and a feeling. It is possible to be guilty without feeling guilty. It is possible to feel guilty without being guilty. And, it is possible to be guilty and feel guilty. No doubt we have all experienced these three conditions.
  • Being guilty without feeling guilty can be due to ignorance. The apostle Paul wrote, "My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me."  1Corinthians 4:4.
  • It is possible to have a hardened heart that feels no guilt even when we are guilty. Hebrews 3:13 admonishes us not to be "hardened by sin's deceitfulness."
  • Feeling guilty even when we are not guilty is a more common struggle for most of us. False guilt is caused by wrong thinking. We feel guilty because we allow ourselves to think thoughts that tell us it is our fault, whatever "it" is. We ignore the facts, we wallow in self-recrimination, and we send ourselves into a downward spiral of despair and discouragement without justification. That's because this false guilt is a feeling, not reality.
Living Guilt-free
If you are a Christian, it is not God's will for you to live in guilt. Allowing guilt to continue to plague you is evidence that you are living a defeated life, and we Christians are called to live victoriously. Galatians 5:1 says, "It is for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

We must learn to recognize Satan's strategy and stand firm against it. It's time we discover that guilt is not meant to be part of our everyday living; it is not normal; it is not okay; it is not inevitable.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What Blots Out Eternity?

Mortal Versus Immortal

This "bit of mortal life" is a good reminder that the things that blot out eternity from our view are mortal, not immortal. This means that they don't last very long. Furthermore, they are bits--small and inconsequential compared to the unseen things of eternity. Yet because this mortal life is close pressed, right in front of our eyes all the time, it frequently keeps us from looking with Forever Eyes.

There could be a scene of unsurpassed beauty and grandeur in front of you, but if you hold a worthless piece of play money up close to your eyes, it will keep you from seeing the magnificent scene behind it.  It will blot out the beautiful with the worthless.  How often we allow useless, worthless, meaningless, mortal things to blot out the everlasting view God has for us, waiting there to be seen with Forever Eyes.

Loving the World

Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.    1 John 2:15-17