Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Guilt has to be one of the more useless emotions in the Christian life.  On the one hand, it is necessary to recognize the guilt of sin in our lives in order to repent, or turn away, from it.  However, once we confess our sins before God and accept the impuned righteousness from Christ, we are no longer guilty of sin.  When we do not sin and still feel guilty--either for past sins or for honest mistakes--then our guilt is useless and crippling.

This morning, I woke up to a strong sense of guilt.  I felt terrible for telling a new aquaintance 'no'.  It's silly, really.  I had been asked to do something that I was unable to do, and so I declined.  I do this fairly often, actually.  I have to, or I'd have more work than I can manage.  Why did it bother me to say no, this time?  Perhaps it was because when I declined, the person on the other end of the phone line went silent.  I don't know why; for all I know, she may have been deep in thought.  I do know that in the space of the few seconds it took for her to reply, I had projected a lot of my own 'stuff' into that space of time.  She doesn't believe me.  She's disappointed.  She won't ask me again.

When I awoke and recognized my misplaced guilt, I began to pray. 

 Lord, sometimes people don't like to hear 'no.'  I don't know if this person is one of them, but I don't want to bear this burden.  It's not right.  I give it to you.  Please forgive me for worrying about what this person thinks.

It took a while to feel better, I noticed.  Prayer is soothing, but it's not magic; we have to believe in the One we pray to, and we have to fully surrender our own feelings to the Lord.  I meditated on Scripture, just so I would remember not to attempt to take back the burden I'd given to God.  Proverbs 29:25 came to mind immediately:  "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." 

As I pondered the state of my unsettled mind, I noticed something interesting.  The times in my life when I have been tempted to worry about the good opinion of others have been times when I've been exhausted.  In years past, I would overextend myself and get into trouble.  I noticed the tell-tale sign that I am doing it again:  I am exhausted.  A friend reminded me that I should rely more on my older sons.  They are capable of doing more.  To that end, Jacob did laundry yesterday.  I am terribly guilty (there's that word again) of taking on tasks that don't belong to me for the sake of peace and good will from others.  The good news is, God reminded me of Matthew 11:28-30:  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  The Christian walk is one of peace and rest, if I am not walking in that truth, then I have taken on burdens that don't belong to me.  Once this truth settled in, I finally felt the weight lift from my shoulders.  I had the opportunity to say no twice this afternoon, and it didn't bother me a bit. 

Many blessings,

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