I once was amazed by a statement in a book by Peter Kreeft (can’t recall which book) that “The Jews gave us the gift of guilt.” In current times, most of us avoid the idea of guilt and find it very negative. To think of guilt as “a gift” was thought-provoking.
Here’s my take on it, but I am not an expert:
1) Guilt is a gift when I have broken one of God’s laws. This might be thought of as the Ten Commandments, or the “two greatest commandments”: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Have I done evil, or have I failed to do the good I had the means to do?
2) It is a gift if I allow the guilt to bring me to repentance.
3) It is a gift if after repenting, I freely accept forgiveness.
Guilt can be a gift like a cancer diagnosis. You did not perhaps know you had cancer until the doctor informed you. Now that you are informed, things can be done to destroy or remove the cancer. The guilt is the impetus, like the awareness following the diagnosis, to take action.
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