Many can acknowledge accomplishments and victories they have experienced in their lives. On good days, it is easy to come up with a list of things we have overcome, even challenges we have faced and grown from! The problem seems to be on days where things begin to go wrong. Then, one by one, thoughts of insufficiency, guilt, shame, and inadequacy begin to snowball in our minds. “If I haven’t gotten that promotion yet, it is because I am not good enough.” “I would not being going through this mess if I would have been more careful.” “If they were to know who I really am, they might not talk to me anymore.” Thoughts like these, make it difficult for us to see God’s freedom and eternal love.
We have been set free from the imprisonment of guilt and shame, so what is it that keeps us there? Guilt can be broken down in two ways, true guilt and false guilt. True guilt derives from sin and is God’s way of calling us back to him. 2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV states, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Guilt does not have to be a bad thing. When guilt leads us to checking our hearts and we are able to receive God’s forgiveness, it is liberating! It is false guilt or “worldly sorrow” that the Bible warns us about because it will bring death. False guilt refers to the guilt is focused on ourselves. It is a guilt that is focused on our hurt, offenses, and not meeting others’ expectations.
It is important that we are aware of where our guilt and shame is coming from. It is normal to experience regret and sadness, but lasting despair interferes with our ability to see God’s freedom and eternal love.