Summary: This is Part Two of the message on the subject of guilt, using David¡¦s interaction with King Saul as an example of how to handle guilt feelings.

Charles W. Holt


GUILT and How to Deal With it. (Part Two)

1 Samuel 24

This is the final installment in our series on the subject of guilt. Last week we saw how David dealt with his "I wish I hadn’t done that¨ guilt feeling after he secretly cut off a piece of King Saul’s robe while they were all inside a huge cavern. I said then that David also provides us with a second example of the "I wish I hadn’t done that¨ guilt experience. That story is just too good to pass because of what we can learn from it. That’s why I have chosen to revisit this subject again.

I will begin this message with a question. We have all seen caps, jackets, and tee shirts emblazoned with names such as Nike, Budweiser, Coors, Old Navy, The Gap, etc. People who wear articles with those names are walking billboards. You may have a cap or shirt with some well-known brand name on it and you are quite comfortable wearing it. My question is: How comfortable would you be wearing a cap or shirt with the words GUILTY emblazoned across the front? You know¡K a ball cap, for example, with the letters GUILTY embroidered in huge letters across the front as though it was branded across your forehead. Just think about it. Wherever you went, wearing that cap, the first thing people would notice would be your proclamation GUILTY! They would probably think, "I wonder what he is guilty of?¨ The next thought might be, "If he is guilty, why does he want to advertise it as if he was proud of the fact?¨

Well, believe it or not, the word GUILTY is now a registered trademark of the Guilty Corporation. Beginning sometime this spring you will see GUILTY advertised in various media and have the opportunity to purchase articles of apparel, sports equipment, lingerie, cologne, chocolate, and greeting cards, to name a few, that use the name.

There’s an interesting bit of psychology behind the idea of using the name GUILTY to prominently trim merchandise. According to advance publicity the company believes, "Two-thirds of consumers will not only buy, but pay a premium for brands they feel reflect their personalities. Even more sought after is the ability to make a personal statement. When a group is wearing or using the typical brand, they are all communicating that brand’s message.¨

The brains behind the marketing of this new logo say, "Commanding more attention for the individual than any other brand, GUILTY provides superior satisfaction for the consumer’s need to be noticed. Unlike other brands, GUILTY brings attention to the individual wearing or using the project, not just the brand being advertised. People are compelled to ask ’What are you guilty of?’" This question is a catalyst for conversation allowing people to reveal something unique and personal about themselves. GUILTY is the ultimate ’social icebreaker.’¨ Remember, folks, you heard it here first.

Now let’s move on to more serious stuff.

ANOTHER CASE IN POINT (Adapted from a story told by Gary Reece, Ph.D. in his article, Self-Esteem and Guilt, taken from the Internet.)

I want to tell you about a 40-year-old minister who for many years was held hostage by guilt. By the very nature of his profession, study, and preaching, he should have known how guilt works and what he could do with it. But he didn¡¦t and he was miserable for years. He had gone on vacation to visit his family. One of the things he had struggled with all of his adult life was a terrible feeling of guilt he had carried around since he was a teenager. Two things had happened that he attributes as the cause of his guilt. The first incident happened one day when he came home from school and discovered that his father had moved out. His mother, he felt, implied that it was because of him. No matter how wrong that was when she said it, the reality for him was that he had caused his father to abandon him and the rest of the family. This is exactly how guilt works: it distorts reality; our perception of how things really are is knocked seven ways to crazy and we ’hear’ things that aren’t even said and believe things that do not actually exist. This is how he reacted to his mother’s announcement that his father had left.

Several months later, still nursing a huge sense of guilt about his father leaving, another event occurred which deepened his sense of guilt. He was pushing his sister in a swing and she lost her balance and fell out. She struck her head and was in a coma for several weeks. She recovered but has had lasting neurological problems.

Years later he is still torturing himself about these events. Finally, his father died, taking with him whatever were the real reasons for leaving his family. His sister, however, is still living. He went to see her on his vacation. His goal was to talk with her, deal with his feelings of guilt and ask for forgiveness.

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