O What Needless Guilt We Bear

July 19, 2017
by Diane Eaton

I'm susceptible to guilt trips. The more I care about people and issues, the more vulnerable I am. I hear a multitude of voices urging me to do something. It's too much, and I feel badly for failing so many people. The pile-up of guilt becomes a burdensome load to bear … thankfully!

I say "thankfully!" because the distress nudges me back to my Lord for repair. Then, I remember that it's not God Who dispenses all those obligations on me, or on you. It's not God Who pressures our conscience by laying guilt trips. It's people. It's ourselves. When we carry needless loads of guilt, we deprive ourselves of God's grace. Furthermore, in trying to do those "right things" which seem so urgent, we get in God's way. We quench what the Spirit could do for others, including ourselves.

Christ invites you and me to lay our guilt burdens on Him: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened [with guilt], and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28 NIV) This is truly liberating repentance! This is the guilt-free life!

Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther discovered the power of this promise. That sparked the Reformation. Unashamedly, Luther confronted the church for her devilish habit of guilt-tripping. He proclaimed God's freedom from condemnation through grace alone.

Romans 8:1-2 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (NIV 2011)

We again need reformers who, like Luther, will boldly oppose the habit of guilt-tripping God's people, and who will re-affirm the mighty power of divine grace through saving faith. I declare: Today's churches are in real danger of slipping back to pre-Reformation habits! Guilt tripping gets results: donations, volunteers, "correct" language, etc.

But God has a far better plan. Consider the episode where a crippled man begs Peter for a handout. Unapologetically, Peter replies, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk" (Acts 3:6 NIV 2011). God heals that man; he jumps for joy. What a demonstration of God's glory for all to witness! That's the outcome of grace! Isn't that what we want? We'll never get that through guilt-trips — never.

Today, God's grace can still transform people — including those who are loaded down with crippling hurts and offenses. We, like Peter, can unashamedly offer what only God can give.

Prayer: Dear Lord, O what peace we often forfeit; O what needless guilt we bear; all because we do not carry everything to You in prayer. We repent of this sin, and look to You alone for peace and solace of conscience — liberated to be what You've called us to be. Amen.

About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you for this.


    Amen, Diane. Love this statement: Guilt tripping gets results: donations, volunteers, “correct” language, etc.


    Hi Diane
    This touched my heart and mind at a very real point of need. Praise Jesus for your sharing it.


    Hi Diane,
    Thank you for your devotional this morning. You make some very good points.
    Blessings.


    Diane
    Guilt is such a killer and there are many including churches who will lay it on.
    That grace is sufficient is still unknown to many.
    Thanks for writing,


    Diane, thanks for sharing this devotional with us. Yes, for sure, guilt trips take us on an unnecessary journey down depression road into the valley of regret dumping us at the doorstep of despair. But PTL, Jesus broke our chains and set guilt’s captives free. Thanks again for writing this devotional. Blessings.


    Thank you for your devotional today. It really spoke to me as I am the “queen” of quilt. As I was reading your devotional I was struggling with a guilt trip.
    Blessing.


    I can identify with this monster called “guilt”. I am the main caregiver and have been for over 10 years or more for my Mom and unfortunately was the “bad” person that had to put her in a nursing home. She was in an assisted living before she had her stroke and needed more care. She was happy there but has not, at times, been all that happy in the nursing facility.
    She now has dementia and sometimes is very unpleasant to me. It broke my heart when she told me to get out of her room. I did. but not before I got angry with her and now I am so upset and guilty and your meditation certainly came at the right time. I still feel very upset that I was angry but after praying for help for my quick bit of temper I read you meditation and feel it was posted just for me. How do you apologize to someone with dementia and make them know how sorry you are.


    Thanks Diane.
    I just prayed a prayer to be released from guilt of the past concerning my mother.
    God is good!
    Blessings.


    Dear Diane,
    Thank you for the wholesome and in-depth devotional.
    Keep writing.


    Hello Diane,
    Finally back home from being evacuated. What a good and needed message! How, in our humanness, we so readily fall into the snare of guilt, and how it directs our thoughts away from Christ and God’s love for us. “All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” Indeed, how thankful that moment is when we remember to dump our load at Jesus’ feet.
    Praise God, and God bless you!
    (BC)

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