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Summary: Pastor Dave felt terrible guilt over not being able to meet all of the needs of his parishioners. When he took time off for golf he felt so guilty that he never really enjoyed himself. Pastor Dave struggles to earn the approval of everyone in the church b

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Pastor Dave felt terrible guilt over not being able to meet all of the needs of his parishioners. When he took time off for golf he felt so guilty that he never really enjoyed himself. Pastor Dave struggles to earn the approval of everyone in the church because he doesn’t want a group of malcontents to force his expulsion from the church like in his previous experience in Texas.

Most of us can easily fall into the same trap of letting guilt govern our thinking. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Case Western University in Cleveland studies guilt in 1991. He found that the average person spends approximately two hours a day feeling guilty. And for 39 minutes of that time, people feel moderate to severe guilt that may greatly limit their abilities. Even though some amount of guilt can help us to use Godly sorrow to bring us to greater maturity, many guilty feelings can imprison our thinking.

The following are several keys to helping us overcome false guilt or the kind that limits us from growing in all aspects into Christ. If we can follow these guidelines we will be on our way to a healthier, prosperous and more fulfilling lifestyle.

1. Distinguish between Godly sorrow and excessive human guilt that forces us to live to a human standard of perfection that is not in the will of God. Paul the apostle knew that Godly sorrow produces true repentance and a true humility that develops Godly character. Human guilt is often caused by an attempt to live by the laws of men rather than by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 2:8,9)

2. When you start to feel guilty view it just like pain - do something to alleviate it. Be willing to ask someone to forgive you and realize that Jesus is willing to forgive and cleanse you from all unrighteousness if you will confess your sins. ( I John 1:9)

3. When others try to lay a guilt trip on you remember that Paul said, "I do not allow anyone to judge me. I do not even judge myself" (Implying that all sound judgment comes from God alone). Refuse to give in to others’ evaluations of you. Allow the Biblical criteria to be your standard of success. The Lord’s Spirit is sufficient to show you where you are getting off the track of His will. Jesus said, "When He the Holy Spirit is come He will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13)

4. If you need to make corrections in your thinking, lifestyle, attitudes or reactions to others or circumstances just ask the Lord for His enabling grace to help you. Do not try to use your own insights only in making corrections. The Bible says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insights. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."

Application: When you are willing to surrender everything to the Lord of your life, He is far better able to direct you, strength you and facilitate your maturity toward Godliness.

5. Be willing to learn from your mistakes. Realize that we can all grow more in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. No one is perfect. Each of us have a long ways to go in becoming more like Jesus Christ.

Application: Ask the Lord for a humble attitude that allows you to learn from anyone, from any circumstance and from any problem.

6. Ask the Lord for the ability to use the pain of guilt to catalyze your growth in ALL aspects into Christ. There may be areas of your life that you are inadequate - that is not a problem. As long as you are willing to allow the Lord to help you improve, guilt can be a strengthening force to bring you to a greater reliance on the Lord for the transforming power of His Spirit. Paul wrote,

"We all with open face beholding the Lord are changed from one degree of glory to another, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18)

7. Be willing to accept your limitations. None of us have every spiritual gift or resource at our disposal.

8. Ask the Lord’s help in disabling your guilty reactions. Many of us have people who like to use guilt to manipulate us - do not let them. People can break your heart if you let them through these tools of discouragement.

God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but will with each temptation provide you with a way to escape so that you can come through triumphantly."

9. Ask God’s help in forgetting the past. Too many people are prisoners of their past conditioning. The Spirit gives us the ability to forget the harmful things of the past and press forward to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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