Understand the role guilt plays in the life of a single Christian

Guilt can be constructive or destructive.

Singles often feel the weight of guilt, but frequently we use it the wrong way, making ourselves miserable over nothing.

When that happens, we stagger along in life, dragging this heavy burden of shame behind us, ruining our witness and keeping us from the joy God wants us to experience.

Jack's truths for thriving.

Guilt is a warning that we need to confess and repent from sin.

Think of a smoke detector. When the warning beeper goes off, we run to see what the problem is. Unless it's malfunctioning, a smoke detector doesn't just go off by itself. Something--sometimes smoke you can't even see--has triggered it.

Look for the cause

Your conscience is like that smoke detector, and guilt is the alarm noise. When you feel this nagging uneasiness, you should honestly and sincerely look for what's causing it. Most often the cause is sin.

I don't know about you, but I hate to admit to myself that I sin. It's a blunt reminder that I'm far from perfect. But it's true, and guilt is usually a pretty reliable sin-alarm.

I go back in my memory and think about what specific thing I've done wrong. Usually it's easy to recall, because I felt uneasy about it right at the time I did it. But because I'm also a pretty absent-minded fellow, sometimes I really can't remember.

Either way, I stop, admit to God that I have sinned, express genuine sorrow, ask his forgiveness, and repent (plan to change my ways). It's crucial to understand that when we go to God in this way, he always forgives us.

And let me give you this reassurance, as a fairly mature Christian: As I've grown in my faith, I've found it easier to accept God's forgiveness. With time, you will too.

What about false alarms?

Occasionally feelings of regret can be a false alarm. We really haven't done anything wrong, but we continue to beat ourself up because we haven't accepted God's forgiveness or can't forgive ourself.

In that case, we need to pray (talk with God), asking him to help us move on. Just as you wouldn't let your smoke detector keep beeping after you deal with what triggered it, you shouldn't continue to feel remorse after you've confessed and repented. Move on!

Remember that Jesus died for your sins, so you don't have to become a walking corpse driven by remorse. Silence it like you'd silence an annoying smoke detector. Deal with the cause then get on with your life.

That's how God wants you to handle this problem.

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