Today, I’m really interested in, Philip Yancey, well known Christian author, a writer, and you’ve probably got some of his books if you’re interested in that. And he talks in a book called Guilt: Good and Bad. The early warning signs, I think some very healthy advice about guilt and having a proper perspective on guilt.
For example, from the 1970s, there was a novel that says and included the words “Love means never having to say You’re sorry”.
and Phillip Yancey says, I’ve come to believe the opposite. That love means precisely having to say “you’re sorry.” A sense of guilt that’s underappreciated deserves our gratitude. Not only for only such a professional force can make us or nudge us towards repentance and reconciliation with those whom we have harmed, and I think he’s right. This idea of love means never having to say you’re sorry. I think that can go a little bit too far.
In the book, the first circle, Alexander Soze, described a prisoner who was obsessively going around marking a pink sheet of paper for every bad thought or defect.
And Yancey says, I’ve known Christians who go through life with this hyper attention to defects.
Some raised in oppressive environments, go through life afraid with their heads down, fleeing anything that might be perceived as pleasure and terrified that they are somehow offending one of God’s laws.
And he also talks about Martin Luther and Martin Luther. A great man, of course, in the church was a monk, and in his early days as a monk, he would, daily wear his or wear out his confessor. He used to go to the the senior Monks and confess to them, sometimes for six hours about his thoughts.
And one of them said to him, My son, God is not angry with you. It is you who are angry with God.
And Martin Luther eventually came to agree that his fear of sinning actually showed a lack of faith.
And so lots of these ideas come, I think, in new way to us. We used to talk in the old days about a Puritan and someone, rather facetiously called a Puritan, a person with a haunting fear that someone, somewhere is happy tongue in cheek, of course, but that gives us an idea of how some people have looked on the church and people in the church. People in the church have somehow got a sad face and are never prepared to be happy.
In fact, Jesus himself was criticised by the Puritans of his day. Well, Jesus, of course, got in and and enjoyed life, and he showed a positive attitude.
So we’re talking about guilt, and Philip Yancey says that, guilt, like physical pain, is directional just as the body speaks to us in the language of pain. The spirit speaks to us in a language of guilt so that we can take the steps that are necessary for healing. Many people, of course, are viewed as saintly.
True saints don’t get discouraged over their faults, for they recognise that a person who feels no guilt can never find healing.
So neither can a person who wallows in guilt. And what I think Yancey is trying to say here is have a balanced view about this.
Guilt is there. It serves as a purpose. Of course, if we’ve done things wrong, we do experience guilt, and that needs to be dealt with. But guilt should press us towards the God the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who actually promises forgiveness and restoration. And Philip Yancey says, I once thought that Christians went through life burdened by guilt. In contrast to carefree unbelievers, he says, I now realise that Christians are the only people who don’t have to go through life feeling guilty.
Guilt is only a symptom. We listen to it because it drives us towards the cure.
So I think that’s a great idea. And if you ever see any of Philip Yancey’s writings, particularly this book called Guilt: good and bad – the early warning signs, I would suggest you grab it and buy it. It’s a great book by Philip Yancey.
Well, Lord, you’ve promised that we will be like a spring whose Waters never fail. And Lord, we want to be refreshed in our mind and our heart. We know that the eternal spring never fails because, Lord, you supply every need and we need never be thirsty again. And I asked this in his name. Amen.