“When you’re ready to come to terms with the guilt of your past, begin by humbling yourself.” —Charles R. Swindoll
You can pick your friends, you can pick your spouse, but you can’t pick your family! Family relationships are bound to strain at times and in many cases fracture, leading to feelings of failure and guilt, but there is a way to repair and rebuild damaged relationships—whether or not we’ve chosen them.
The wounds we’ve suffered need not be fatal, not if we apply four principles of divine truth.
Truth #1: We are all imperfect. Each and every one of us is a sinner and sin affects every aspect of our lives—our wills, minds, and emotions.
Truth #2: We cannot change the past. Neither God nor we can change what has been, but God can redeem our past and bring healing.
Truth #3: We are personally responsible for our own wrongs. No excuses. No playing the blame game. We must break free from immature attitudes of irresponsibility.
Truth #4: We are not responsible for another’s wrongdoings. When pain comes because of someone else’s foolishness we aren’t responsible; it isn’t our fault.
The Lord, through the mouthpiece of Isaiah in Isaiah 58:1-12, gives us a blueprint for restoring damaged relationships with others and with God when we’re in the wrong.
In order to heal broken relationships we’re instructed to put away empty religiosity (58:1-5) and humble ourselves (58:7-8). Next, we must pray (58:9). We cannot really pray and be proud at the same time; true prayer is an act of humility. When coming to grips with our wrongs, we must remove the yoke (58:9-10). This step demands we clean up our attitudes and quit blaming others. Then we must make ourselves available and vulnerable to the person we’ve offended (58:10-11). All the previous steps lead to this one—it will test our humility because it requires us to confess and ask for forgiveness. Finally, we must trust God to bring changes (58:12). There is no guarantee that our confessions will lead to relationship restoration, but confession gives God an opportunity to work. God can remove our guilt and shame and heal the other person’s brokenness. God can turn enemies into allies.
“Getting Past the Guilt of Your Past” is from Chuck Swindoll’s series Family Matters: Investing in the Things That Last. You can stream this message online anytime at insightforliving.ca/audiolibrary.