I slip again
no, I sin
I need at least that much integrity
And when subtle pangs
of guilt arrive
I firmly close the door against them
And I live guilt free
Then I crack open
my heart to you in worship
as I praise your holiness
And that crack from praise
shatters the door holding back the guilt
and it floods in
How can a holy God
accept one such as I?
—Purify Me, 2005
Pop psychology teaches us that guilt destroys and diminishes us. It brings shame into our lives and we evaluate ourselves with that as the template. But, we’re good, they tell us, and encourage us to not allow anyone to tell us different.
Does that match reality? Are we basically or fully good or fully bad? I slip a lot, and the longer I walk with Jesus, the more I realize those slips are truly sins—where I take God’s place in determining how I want to live.
So, guilt can be my friend when it comes to following Jesus. It lets me know I’ve “slipped,” and need to take corrective action. You see, I’ve found that sin and serving the Savior are paradoxical. Both true, but opposite. I can’t fully do both. I do sin. I do follow Jesus. But they pull me in opposite directions. I just read an interesting quote—is any act good because God says so, or because it reflects God’s essence? I lean to the latter. God is pure, and if want to follow him, then we need to move that way. Guilt is like a highway bump just off the side of the lane that tells us we’ve drifted outside the safe lane.
So I now rejoice in that pang of guilt—it tells me of a change I need, that I perhaps haven’t been aware of before.
Now, for all of us.
Has guilt been destructive to you? Has it been constructive? Do you agree with the concept that guilt is a marvelous gift from God that allows us to identify new areas that we can grow in? How has that worked in your life?