For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
There has been a tremendous shift in mainstream Christianity away from sin and guilt. We dismiss any concept or conviction that might make people feel uncomfortable—especially ourselves. Hellfire and brimstone preaching is a relic of the past. Sin and damnation are out. We don’t dare do or say anything that would induce people to feel guilty. We believe faith should be about love, freedom, and the ability to lead a happy life. When people attend church or gather with Christian friends, they should leave that gathering feeling better about themselves and better about life in general than when they arrived. Christianity is about “good news,” so it stands to reason that we should have a good time practicing it!
However, Paul believed that there was a kind of good guilt—what he referred to as “godly grief.” This was guilt applied to someone’s life not to simply make them feel bad but to produce repentance. Sometimes we cannot merely be affirmed into the right direction, rather we need to be confronted with the painful truth that we are not living our lives as we should. We need a course correction. We need a spiritual traffic cop. We need someone who is unafraid to speak hard words to our lives. Guilt can be good. Guilt is an indication we have acted in ways that are beneath our created purpose. Guilt can spin us around and get us back on track. Guilt may not be fashionable these days, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good for us.
When was the last time you felt really guilty?
Lord, we would like our faith to affirm us and assure us that we are doing our best. That means we would prefer a faith that lies to us. But that is not the faith of Paul, it is not the faith of Jesus—it is not faith in You. You speak truth to our lives. You don’t tell us what we want to hear but what we need to know. You can use guilt for our own good. Help us to accept that teaching when we feel guilt welling up within us. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.