Guilt Can Make Things Better

If we are honest, we have all made many mistakes in our personal, social, and spiritual lives. Saint Augustine wrote about his moral and ethical failures in the classic work The Confessions of Saint Augustine. I revisited this book on vacation. It is not pool side reading but it’s an inspirational piece of literature revealing that even the best of us fail more than a few times in life.

Guilt is a function of feeling bad about our failures and missteps. Guilt is part of the human condition; everyone feels guilt at some time or another,  wether Christian or not. The people of faith, who have made progress in moral and ethical matters might be less guilty, yet they might feel more guilt because they are more sensitive to moral and ethical failure. For the people of faith a sensitive conscience authenticates our faith and motivates us to make better choices.

Although it is counterintuitive, when we fail (and we will) guilt makes us feel genuine about our relationship with God. Guilt hurts and we are willing to be hurt to be more pleasing to God. In contrast, for some guilt is marginalized or dismissed: the conscience calloused and insensitive. The failure to feel guilt or admit to its reality is a sure way to seperate ourselves from God. Not so with the people of faith: Guilt leads them to repentance. Scripture teaches that godly sorrow (or guilt) leads the people of faith to change and renewal. The end result of guilt and repentance is personal, social, and spiritual growth. When this happens, we look forward to a better future where our choices will be more in line with God’s intentions for us. 

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