That dreaded word: guilt.

Are we guilty of guilting others?

Guilt: that great UNmotivator!

You’ve experienced it. You’ve quite probably used it at some point in your life, too. In the Christian world we don’t like to call what we do to others piling on guilt, but that is what we do. We much prefer to put it in a better spiritual light and say, “You reap what you sow” but it can turn into an *I Told You So* attitude very quickly and with little provocation. Why do we put guilt on others?

  • Sometimes it is because we want to show how much more spiritual we are than you.
  • Sometimes it is to make US feel better by proving to ourselves that you are not as spiritually on top of things as we are.
  • Sometimes it is really out of a heart to *encourage* you to do better in your walk with God.

But no matter how it is used, guilt is the biggest UNmotivator and the most deadly joy-killer that has ever been used on the human race. I’ve spent the better part of 5 decades battling this tool of the enemy and have developed a keen eye for guilt in the tiniest corners where it crawls.

The heartbeat of guilt is condemnation.

We all know the verse,

“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom 8:1.

Yet still we try to motivate others through guilt. We think if they TRULY know how disappointed God is in their lives, they’ll pull themselves up by their bootstraps and do better. But we seldom stop to think that guilt does not produce faith, it produces flesh.

Guilt does one of two things:

  • It leads us away from the foot of the cross where we seek mercy; it leads us to believe that, since we don’t deserve mercy, we need to get better enough on our own so that we can earn that mercy from God (but then we can be deceived to think we don’t need mercy because we’ve now gotten our lives together and the need is gone).
  • Or it leads us to run and hide from God, drifting further and further from Him, deeper and deeper into sin.

So what was originally intended to be something to pull us closer, actually becomes the means to push us further from Him and His love and forgiveness.

Grace, the TRUE motivator.

I’m never quite sure why, but we tend to be afraid of grace as the true motivator. I think perhaps we misunderstand the real nature and power of grace. We erroneously think that if we give grace or share God’s grace to others that we are giving them liberty to sin. But grace is more powerful and effective than we ever realize! When we really understand grace, we know that it lifts us above ourselves and places us in the realm of God and His power. It floods our hearts with humility and gratitude and it encourages us to fall more deeply in love with our precious Lord. This grace, not guilt, is the motivator for us to walk away from sin.

  • Grace calls to faith which brings righteousness and life.
  • Guilt calls to the flesh which brings condemnation and death.

Which would YOU prefer?

All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.
Unless otherwise indicated, photos from
image courtesy of FrameAngel/

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