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Guilt Trip

Click here to read 2 Corinithians 8 on BibleGateway.com

“They exceeded our expectations…bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.” – 2 Cor. 8:5-6

Sometimes the ol’ English language is a little tricky for the Believer.  Words have more than one meaning, or we use more than one word to say the same thing  Which means we have words that can carry a negative connotation in one sense, and so we are hesitant to use it in its proper or positive way.  Confused?

Let’s take the word “guilt” for example.  Most of us would agree that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross atones for our guilt, in the sense that He took the punishment for our sin upon himself.  In that way, we no longer have to “feel guilty” in the sense that God has forgiven us.  On the other hand, guilt can also mean “the feeling that you aren’t doing enough,” and that can be either good or bad.  But because we know we shouldn’t feel “guilt version 1,” we automatically think that “guilt version 2” is also a bad thing.

We even have a term for this: a guilt trip.  This is when somebody makes you feel guilty, even though you haven’t done anything wrong, or because they’re trying to get you to do something for them.  Examples? Alright:

”That’s alright, you don’t have to finish supper.  It only took me six hours to make, and I only lost one finger cutting the pieces down the size you like.  I still have 9 other digits to use for supper tomorrow.”

“Of course I know you’re busy, you don’t have to help me with this project.  I’m sure if I get fired it’ll all work out somehow.”

“That’s ok, you don’t have to come visit me when I’m elderly.  I like being alone at the nursing home, with all the fish tanks to look at.”

THE GUILTER’S GUILD

And so guilt gets a bad name; it’s seen as manipulative, or self-serving, or even dishonest.  We have whole seminars built around getting rid of our guilt feelings.   We may even get mad at our pastors when they try to push us into giving extra to the building fund or missions budget.  How dare they guilt us into serving God?

Yet, maybe we’re looking at this problem in the wrong way.  After all, Paul doesn’t seem to have any trouble guilting people into giving.  Notice how he sticks it to the Corinthians here, by talking about how much the other churches are doing. Let’s run down the list:

– They gave more, even though they’re broke
– They gave more than they could afford
– They actually prayed that God would let them give
– They “gave to the Lord” and also to other believers.

Then Paul basically starts schmoozing – “you’re so good at everything, why not be good at giving too?” It’s like when the coach points out Rodney making all his shots, and tells you that could do that too, if you worked a little harder.

THE MIRROR GATE

The hard part to accept is that we often like to blame leadership for “guilting” us, when in reality they are simply challenging us to do what we should be doing with a cheerful heart.  We blame them for “manipulating,” instead of looking in the mirror and see if perhaps they’re not the ones gaming the system.  We want to be able to do what we want, and not be forced to feel bad about it.

Maybe if we feel guilty, or we get upset at people “guilting” us into giving, maybe instead of blaming them, we need to look at own hearts.  If somebody tells you “you’re not eating enough pizza,” you probably don’t get mad or think they’re guilting you.  You’re excited, because you’re looking to get going on correcting that.  Shouldn’t our attitude be the same when it comes to giving?  If a pastor/missionary challenges us to give, shouldn’t we be as excited to join that ministry as we are to ingest melted cheese? Guilt in that sense can be a good thing, because it can motivate us to pursue a more holy life, in our giving, or thoughts, or actions, even if we don’t liek someone pointing it out.

Maybe others guilting us isn’t the real problem.  Maybe the real problem is we have something to feel guilty about.

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