A lot of different things make us feel guilty in life. A recent edition of USA Today reports 21 percent of us feel guilty because we do not recycle. Another 22 percent of us felt guilt over not unplugging electronics; 27 percent of us feel guilty for wasting water; 27 percent of us feel guilt for leaving lights on after leaving a room and 39 percent of us experience guilt over wasting food.
Certainly, there are weightier things that produce guilt in our lives. Perhaps we have hurt someone's reputation. Perhaps we have been less than honest with our employer. Perhaps we took something that did not belong to us.
Three thousand years ago, in the case of a Middle Eastern king named David, the guilt was great. This beloved king lost his honor after committing the heinous acts of adultery, murder and a criminal cover up. (See 2 Samuel 11-12). Stealing another man's wife along with her purity are great sins. To eliminate the betrayed husband through an act of murder is unspeakable. David's guilt was great.
Rev. Kent Hinkel
Human nature is to hide from guilt. That was David's course of action. For the better part of a year, David hid the truth of his actions. One day, a bold prophet approached the king. With the skill of a surgeon and in the name of the God of Israel, the prophet Nathan confronted David with a scorching rebuke. Tired from running from the truth, David cried out to God, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment." (Psalm 51:4).
What followed must have been a surprise. David heard words of mercy. "You shall not die." The king was guilty of two capital offenses under Jewish law adultery and murder. Yet, there was mercy for a repentant king. Though there were difficult consequences for David's misdeeds, there was grace. David's confession and penitent heart led to a full cleansing of his conscience and a restoration of his honor in Israel.
David was so amazed at the reality of forgiveness that he penned Psalm 32 as a joyful response. He wrote, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit" (verses 1-2). He continued with, "I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord; and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to you in a time when you may be found" (verses 5-6a).
Reflections, a mini-sermon written by Minot and area clergy, will appear each Saturday in The Minot Daily News. Clergy interested in writing a mini-sermon should contact Religion Editor Loretta Johnson at 857-1952 or Debbie Sandvold at 857-1950. The toll-free number is 1-800-735-3229.
Where do you go when you experience feelings of guilt? Let's learn some lesson from David. Let's remember God's desire of us: an open, honest life which does not presume upon his grace. Let's remember God's grace which makes full confession and forgiveness possible. Let's remember God's promise to watch over our lives and keep us from repeating the sin of the past life. (See Psalm 32:6-11).
Like David, let's learn to hide in God versus hiding from God. Through faith in Christ, let us bring any guilt we may experience to heaven's throne of grace. Let's do so believing the words of Scripture: "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Let go of guilt by giving it to God in the name of Jesus Christ through the act of confession.
The Rev. Kent Hinkel is pastor of First Baptist Church in Minot.