Sermons

Summary: This is the second in a two-part message about how we can get rid of the guilt that we feel for past forgiven actions.

February 2, 2003 Zechariah 3:1-10

¡§The burden of guilt¡¨ (pt. 2)

You may know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the writer of the Sherlock Holmes novels. But you probably don¡¦t know that he was quite a prankster. One day he played a prank on 5 of the most prominent men in England. He sent an anonymous note to these 5 prominent men and it simply said this, "All is found out, flee at once." Within 24 hours all five men had left the country. Doyle did not know what their secrets were, but he played on the assumption that all men have secrets, and those secrets usually lead to terrible feelings of guilt.

Guilt is like a cloud hanging over your head. It causes you to think something like this: "I just can¡¦t get on with my life because I¡¦m afraid somebody is going to find that skeleton in my closet - that deep, dark secret that I know about, and obviously God knows about, but nobody else knows about.¡¨ It carries a heavy, heavy weight.

When you feel guilt, you can either try to suppress it, or you can deal with it. ¡§One psychologist describes guilt as the red light on our internal dashboard. When the red light glows, you have a choice to make. Pull over, get out of the car, open the hood and see what¡¦s wrong; or you can smash the light with a hammer and keep driving. The first option [may not be pleasant or convenient but it] leads to fixing the problem; it makes you aware of the broken water hose or the cracked radiator. The second option only relieves the symptoms, but leaves you stranded further down the road.¡¨

Those who are willing to admit their guilt try to deal with it in a variety of ways. I came across a web sight last week that promises that if you air your dirty laundry there, then you will be freed from your feelings of guilt. Believe it or not, people really do it. Let me give you just a couple of examples to see if what they feel guilty about strikes home with any of you.

Guilt? Guilt is my middle name. I feel guilty for not being more than I am, for letting opportunities pass me by, for not having enough energy to do everything, for not being perfect, for spending so much time on the web! I feel guilty for not being best at everything, because merely being good at some things is not good enough. I feel guilty for being emotional and spacy and focused and eccentric rather than calm and cool and organized. I feel guilty for having a bit of an edge on my personality ¡K I feel guilty about having a daughter who refuses to wear dresses or a pink pony tail... I feel guilty about producing boys who aren’t great at sports, who are thin and wiry and freckled and spectacled¡K. I feel guilty about aluminum cans and eating meat and using cleaning chemicals and having three children and driving a car. But not guilty enough to change my bad habits. I feel guilty for liking myself even though I’m convinced I’ve failed completely at being perfect. ¡V Candice on http://www.sherryart.com/guilt/guilt.html

My parents always told me that guilt is a wasted emotion. But they’re awfully good at teaching me to waste emotions then! I feel guilty for not wanting to move back to my home town, for playing when I should be working, for working too hard when I should be socializing, for turning my cat into some sort of psycho-wimp (I’m sure I had something to do with it), for not cleaning my house, and for not getting my thesis finished months ago.¡V Kathy on http://www.sherryart.com/guilt/guilt.html

Other ways that people try to deal with guilt on their own are by running to a:

„X Psychiatrist (he¡¦ll help us excuse the guilt; ¡§mother¡¦s fault¡¨; ¡§you were born that way¡¨)

„X Priest (overcome the guilt with good works; ¡§Hail Mary¡¦s¡¨ and pennance)

„X Bar (hide the guilt behind alcohol; escape the guilt¡Kfor a while)

„X Buddy (we want someone to tell us it wasn¡¦t our fault, to agree with us that we were wronged maybe even to join us in our guilt [i.e. ¡§You think that¡¦s bad! Listen to what I did!¡¨])

Two problems with dealing with guilt on your own are that whatever solutions you come up with are only temporary, and you don¡¦t have the skills or the tools to properly deal with your own guilt. It¡¦s like me trying to fix my car. I have enough wisdom to know that my car is too complex, and my skills are too limited for me to fix it. I send my car to Roy whenever I have a problem with it. The solution I might come up with is probably going to be worse than whatever caused the original problem. That¡¦s what happens with guilt too. By trying to fix it my way, I compound the problems.

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