It’s only natural to feel guilty when we’ve done something wrong or have caused harm to others in some way. But sometimes we feel bad by accepting unwarranted blame or by perpetually reliving our past mistakes. This is false guilt.
True guilt is a corrective emotion. We regret what we’ve done and we seek to make it right.
On the other hand, false guilt is merely condemning without the hope of restoration.
This happens, for instance, when we accept blame that is not ours to own.
Occasionally, people will blame us for the problems in their life. We’ve not done anything wrong, but in their hurt and pain they accuse us of causing them harm.
As much as we might care for the relationship and feel bad for their suffering, it’s false guilt to accept this blame.
There are many ways in which we can care for others in their pain. But false guilt tempts us to try to make up for something we cannot do and this blocks the actual healing the other needs.
False guilt also occurs when our past sins keep us stuck in shame.
Again, initially feeling bad is a good thing as it motivates us to change. But when we find ourselves constantly apologizing for our past sins we’re not yet living in the grace and freedom Christ offers.
Of course, expressions of remorse are needed frequently and often throughout the healing journey. But we must still practice grace and the redeeming power of love. And at some point we live in the freedom of who we’re becoming and not in the guilt of our past sins.
False guilt denies the truth of who we are and blocks our ability to love freely and fully.
Don’t let false guilt hold you back. Live in truth and love well.