I went through a big part of my childhood feeling guilty about just being born. My mother told me that, first of all, I was an accident and wasn't supposed to be born. My mother also told me that, after she found out she was with child, she was at least hoping for a boy! So I know all about guilt. Many times I felt guilty for even being in my family.

What is guilt? One definition for guilt is: Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing. That definition fits in well with the type of guilt I'm talking about. The feeling we have when we haven't always done anything yet we still feel guilty. We must learn to decipher between our feelings of guilt. If the feelings are true or false. For example: I felt guilty for over 20 years for the burden I put on my family for just being born. My mother constantly told me that she cleaned apartments just so I could go to a private school. I believed that until one day (when I was in my thirties) it occurred to me that she was already managing the apartment building where we lived before I began attending the private school she was always throwing up to me. One day, when she said that to me, I confronted her with that fact. She never said that to me again. Evidently, she believed it herself and that one fact, that she would have been cleaning that apartment building whether I had attended a private or public school, had never occurred to her, either. People can feel guilty their entire lives over some of the most trivial things. And many times if they would just take time to reason out why they were having those feelings of guilt they would see they were unfounded. Just as in my case of the private school, there was no basis for the feeling at all. Here I had been feeling bad for causing my mother to work at taking care of an apartment building for years when she had already chosen that job before my schooling had entered the picture. And besides that, I only went to that private school for two years ... how lame is that! My mother was very good at making others feel guilty. I'm sure you know someone like that - don't fall into their trap.


Genesis 3:1 "Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."

Genesis 37:26 "And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? 27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. 29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. 30 And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?"


All down through time men and women have attempted to shift blame to keep from feeling guilt. For some reason, if we can share this feeling with someone else it is easier to bear. In the scripture above, Eve knew God had told her not to eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, yet she gave in to the temptation Lucifer offered and ate. What did she do next? She unselfishly shared her fruit with her husband, of course. And women have been serving food to their husbands ever since! Did Adam know this was the fruit of knowledge when he ate it? This has been a question of controversy for ages. I think he did know. I think the serpent enticed the woman and the woman enticed the man. She didn't want to be the only guilty one; the only one who disobeyed. And in Genesis 37 Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. His oldest brother, Reuben, had not planned any harm to come to Joseph. He had planned to come back and rescue him but when he returned he was already gone. Joseph's brothers felt the guilt of what they had done for the rest of their lives and especially Reuben, although he was less guilty than any of them. Guilt is a funny thing.

Young people who get into mischief run in gangs because they need to share the guilt of their crimes. But we can't blame our sins on anyone else. No matter what has happened to us in the past, no matter how bad we had it when we were young or what we are going through now, our sins are our own. No one can make you do wrong if you don't want to unless they are holding someone else hostage at threat of death and then you may still have another choice. You almost always have a choice between right and wrong. God will hold each one of us accountable for our own sins on the Day of Judgment if they are not reconciled. There will be no room for placing blame on someone else on that day. If you are feeling guilt, you need to pray and ask forgiveness for what ever is going on in your life, turn from it and get it settled between you and God. Stop shifting the blame to someone else for that sin. It's not your mother's fault you are overeating. So she made you clean your plate at every meal and you were a chubby child because of it. You don't have to be an overweight adult now. Your mother is no longer in control of your eating habits so stop blaming her for your weight problems. It's not your father's fault you are addicted to cigarettes or alcohol. Just because they were available to you at a young age and you partook and became hooked then doesn't mean you still have to smoke or drink. You can quit. I know it is possible to break free from an addiction because I did. Take it to God, pray about it, join a group, get help, turn it loose and quit blaming someone else for your failures. Only when you have done this can you stop passing the guilt and stop feeling guilty yourself for not breaking these habits in your life. Guilt is a terrible burden we don't have to carry. Help is just a prayer away. If you will ask He will provide the strength and the way!

We are constantly either telling ourselves, "I can't help it. I'm this way because of what 'so and so' did to me way back when." Or we say, "It's all my fault this has happened, I feel so guilty," when it isnít our fault at all. Do you ever remember something you did before you got saved and still feel shame? Well, here is a news flash: Jesus took all your guilt and shame to the cross when He died for your sins. Every time you go back and pick up that guilt and shame from your past and carry it around with you, you are basically telling Jesus that His sacrifice of dying for your sins was in vain. He doesn't want you to hold on to those feelings. He has forgiven you and He wants you to forgive yourself. He still allows you to remember so you won't repeat your mistakes. He won't take away all feelings of guilt. You still have a conscience so you can have feelings of guilt if you do something wrong in the future. But God's desire is for us to let the past remain in the past and to let Him worry about the future. He wants us to be free to live in the present, guilt free. That's what Jesus died for! The next time you find yourself thinking either of the thoughts listed above, pull them out into the light and examine them. Is there any truth to them? Be truthful with yourself. Who is at fault? Why are you really feeling guilty? What can you do about the situation to make it better? Then go forward from that point and stop passing the blame and feeling guilty or passing the guilt to someone else. And if you've already asked for forgiveness for something, leave it! Don't pick it up again. He has taken your guilt! You see, we can make His love too narrow by putting limits on His mercy. But there is such a wideness in His mercy - all we need to do is remember He is there for us - always.


There's a wideness

There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
a kindness in his justice,
more than liberty.

There's no place where all our sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven;
no other place where failings
can be forgiven.

For the love of God is broader
than measures of our mind
the heart of God is so richly kind.

We can make his love too narrow
by false limits of our own;
and magnify his strictness,
which he will not own.

If our love were but more simple
and we took him at his word;
our lives he'll fill with gladness,
of the Lord.

Frederick Faber -1854




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