Have you ever experienced guilt? Silly question. We have all faced guilt at one time or another. But what about guilt that overwhelms, even paralyses, preventing us from responding to people properly? What is surprising is to discover how many Christians have guilt even though they have received forgiveness. I thought Christians would be experts in forgiveness, considering how much Jesus taught on the subject.
For Christians to be paralysed by guilt means they have not understood the grace and love of Jesus; it means they have either not accepted, not trust or not understood Jesus' forgiveness. Such Christians live like Joseph's brothers, seeking forgiveness for the same thing over and over again. Joseph had already forgiven his brothers many years previous, when they first entered Egypt. Yes, they had done a terrible thing against him but Joseph recognized Yahweh's hand in it and told them that he forgave them. But it seems that all the years that followed, these brothers still carried the burden of guilt.
When their father, Jacob/Israel, died they collectively thought that Joseph would now get his revenge:
When Joseph’s brothers realized that their father was now dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us, and wants to pay us back seriously for all of the terrible things we did to him?” (Genesis 50:15)
How frustrating for Joseph but how sad for these brothers who carried this needless burden for so long. Joseph assured them:
Grace in all its beauty. How much more so with Jesus? When Jesus says it is forgiven, he means exactly that; it is forgiven. It has been removed from us, never to be thought of again. He has done this for all our offences against Yahweh; the past, the present, the future. His love for us is that great, far greater than we can comprehend. This too is a thing of faith, trusting that because Jesus said it, it is true. There is no place for guilt in our lives.
Forgiveness is a thing we must come to understand and accept. It is important so that we can receive and accept forgiveness but also so that we can forgive. We can never truly be forgivers of offences against us until we are able to accept Jesus' forgiveness. So, throw off that guilt and walk in the grace that has saved all those who have called on the name of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.