“Dad, can you loan me…..?” I may have been able to scrounge up the money, but I said no. Now I felt guilty.
Due to changing circumstances, I was able to award my daughter a car during her senior year in high school. Later, my son reminded me of the gift and asked for the extra vehicle my wife and I owned. Eventually I gave in. Now he had traded it in on an older model with higher mileage. Sure enough, it crashed shortly after he purchased it. Now he wanted a loan to fix it. Though I felt guilty for rebuffing him, I stuck to my guns.
Guilt can be a cruel taskmaster. For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. (James 2:10 NLT)
Guilt comes in several forms: social, false, and spiritual. I feel social guilt when I’ve broken the rules of society. Rules that may or may not reflect God’s laws. When they don’t, there is a high probability I shouldn’t feel guilt for disobeying them. The Jews of the Holocaust era had no basis for feeling guilt over disobeying Hitler’s decrees.
False guilt is just that. Guilt feelings with no basis in reality. Such as those I felt when my son wanted money to alleviate the consequences of his poor decision and I refused.
Spiritual guilt is the critical type and deserves my immediate attention. This guilt is God-given and makes its appearance through my conscience. I’m pestered because I need to be. I’ve thought, said, or acted in ways I shouldn’t have. Confessing to God—and when necessary to others, is the proper course of action.
Learn to diagnose your guilt so you can determine whether it is Satan’s ploy designed to trip you up or a loving prompt from God delivered to build you up.
Prayer: Give us wisdom, merciful Lord, to distinguish between Satan’s guilt trips and Your promptings that encourage us to correct our behavior.
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