Guilt And Self-Discovery
Acts 24:16 NLT … I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.
In the King James version the same verse reads:
Acts 24:16 KJ2000 … to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.
Many years ago I researched the concept of “conscience” according scripture and concluded that conscience is a gift that God uses to lead us to Him, however it can be used by the enemy as well if not aligned with truth.
In my opinion, conscience will always push and drive us towards what is BELIEVED TO BE TRUE and not necessary what IS TRUE. In other words, if your beliefs and hierarchy of values is correct then your conscience will always lead to God, success and blessings. But if your belief system is flawed and accepts lies then conscience will lead to destruction and pain.
So to avoid unnecessary guilt we need to understand our hierarchy of values and examine them to see if they are true. When I speak of our hierarchy of values I am not necessary talking about morals or ethics, but rather what you believe is important – what you value in life.
There is a simple exercise you can perform to help you on the road to self-discovery about your hierarchy of values and therefore discover why you sometimes feel guilt.
You can have multiple hierarchies of values in different areas of your life. For example you can have one list concerning your relationships, another for your work ethic and yet another for your finance. However for this article I’ll just keep it simple with a more general list of values.
To discover your hierarchy start with one thing you believe is important to you. For our example you might select “God” Then you need another value to compare, so for example you might select “work”. To discover which one is most important you need to ask yourself a rather silly question, “If I had too, which one could I live without?” For our exercise, you might determined you could live without “work.” So now you have two items on your list:
Now you need another value. So you might select “Family” and ask, “Which one could I live without – family or work? Again for our exercise, you might decide you could live without “Work” before you could live without your “Family” so “Family” now becomes #2, then ask “Ok, now which can I live without – God or Family? Though that would be an almost impossible choice for most of us, for this exercise we will imagine you selected you could live without your “Family” before you could live without your “God”. Now we have the following hierarchy of values:
Of course you do not want to stop there but continue building upon the list until you feel it is complete. You will also discover these values will move around as your life moves around.
Now how is this information useful? Because “Guilt” is defined as placing, either by thought or behavior, one value of lesser importance above another value of greater importance. That is when you feel guilt. For example, if the above is true and your family needed you and yet you placed your work before your family you would feel guilty – your conscience would trouble you. Or if by your thoughts or behavior you place your family above God your conscience would trouble you and you would experience some guilt. However you would feel no guilt if the following was your hierarchy of values:
Once you discover your hierarchy of values you might not like what you see and decide you need to do some adjusting in what is truly important in your life.
It is also helpful to discover your spouses’ hierarchy of values and other family members. You might be surprised how much you learn about each other and yourself.