Why Guilt Is…A Good Thing

When I typed in why guilt is… into the Google search bar the top results were: why guilt is bad, why guilt is good, why guilt is unhealthy, why guilt is better than shame, and why guilt is pointless. So what do you think about guilt? For me the search results say something troubling about our country when four out of five auto-fill answers (which happen to be the most searched questions) justify a lack of guilt. But how do guilt and Christianity relate?

Guilt is defined as responsibility for having done something wrong and especially something against the law. So naturally when you disobey God while subscribing to his guidance, you by all means should feel some semblance of guilt. There are at least two possible explanations for Christians who have never experienced guilt; either you have never sinned, or you don’t love God. To not feel guilt when you sin means that you are unaware of your sins and incapable of repentance as a result. A claim people who are afflicted with this selfish curse continuously spout is that they don’t feel guilty because they know that God still loves them. These people are missing the point. God doesn’t give us grace because he is ok with us committing sins because he is not; he has bestowed his grace upon us because he understands that we are not perfect.

There is an article in Psychology Today that is entitled, ‘Guilt Is a Wasted Emotion’. This paper discusses how guilt is tied to judgement and shows that you are naively seeking affirmation from someplace other than yourself. This is a very post-modernist idea along with the idea of objective truth. These ideas are in direct conflict with our way of life in the faith. When a parent disciplines their child it is to discourage bad behavior. When God places guilt into our hearts it is to help us refrain from committing so many sins. Eventually if you are disciplined by your parents enough you will internalize that discipline. It is the same when it comes to the guilt we feel when we sin, eventually you will internalize that discipline and eliminate that behavior. To ignore that guilt is to show no growth in your faith. If you face consequences for disrespecting your parents and never commit that act again then you have grown as a person and the punishment has been successful.

Plautus once said, “Nothing is more wretched than the mind of a man conscious of guilt.” Our society is full of ‘guilt-free’ things such as cake, chocolate, and cheese just to name a few. These products claim to be healthier with fewer and fewer calories every time the manufacturer makes more. The thing they don’t tell you about these products is that they are made with more chemicals than natural products. You might not be eating real sugar but you are eating a chemical that your body doesn’t naturally digest. Just because it doesn’t cause you guilt doesn’t mean it is good for you. We all need to focus on internalizing guilt and using it to make us better people. This will lead to less sin and God being glorified more.


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Fit In, Find Faith, Function Faithfully - Beau Davis

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