Have you ever found yourself reading a book and you were so captivated by it that you could not put it down? Have there been times when you picked up a book started reading it and wanted to know why anybody would publish such trash? It’s about the story.
When it comes to helping people live the Christian life, guilt is not the best motivator. I believe that we should feel a true sense of shame and guilt because we have all sinned against a holy and righteous God. The only thing that can remove this shame and guilt is being covered by the precious blood of Jesus, an act known as salvation. However, too many people in the church today are being guilt-tripped into reading their Bible, serving, going to church, and tithing.
The congregation in our churches can only be guilted into something a few times and then guilt is no longer a way to accomplish anything. Tithing is probably the best example that one can use to explain guilt. Most pastors will use Malachi 3:8 -10 for it says, “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Usually in this circumstance, these verses are read, the congregation feels guilty and then next Sunday a really nice offering is given. Then a few Sundays later, the amount in the offering plate goes back down because the guilt has worn off of the people in the congregation. This is a sad way to handle the subject of tithing and giving. Guilt is the wrong motivator even if it works. The people in our churches need to know that if they withhold their offering from God, that God does see them as thieves. However, they need to know that God is also a God of grace and mercy and there is forgiveness where there is repentance.
A pastor needs to realize that he is addressing the Body of Christ. These people are made in the image of God. Instead of guilting people into giving or tithing, there is another route that should be taken. People feel guilty enough when they sin, or do not read the Bible, or they miss church. People need to know that God desires to bless them and give them the abundant life that Jesus talked about if they seek Him with their whole being. Christians should be joyful not shameful. There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.
Pastors should show their congregation that the Christian life is not a bunch of rules and regulations. Jesus gave us only two commandments. Matthew 22:37-39 says, “And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Pastors do not need to guilt their congregations into tithing. They need to show the congregation how to fall in love with God all over again. Seek God! Fear God! Respect God! The congregation needs to learn how to find all their passion, desire, meaning, purpose, identity, hope, and security in God and God alone. When the congregation gets this, true life change takes place.
God does not guilt his people into anything. God wants his people to come to him with the right heart and the right motives. When people fall truly in love with God, they will do things out of their passion and desire for God not because the man behind the pulpit guilt-tripped them into it. Pray that God’s people will long for him the way a deer longs for streams of water. Maybe then, a revival like we have never seen will flood our communities, states, country and spread to the world.
 Unless otherwise noted, the ESV version of the Bible will be used.
 ESV version
It is easy to understand where a non-Christian could end up in a situation of stress, anxiety, suicide or depression. It is hard to understand how a Christian also could end up in the same type situation. How is it that a person could have a life changing experience with God and then just disregard God altogether? Why must people constantly seek pleasure, purpose, meaning, security and desire in things other than a glorious, almighty, holy God?
It has occurred to me that I was once one of those people.
I had a life changing experience and yet did not seek God for my own. I chose to seek after things that would only provide temporary satisfaction instead of God. It makes me sorrowful to realize the time that was wasted seeking things that must have grieved my heavenly Father. I even tried to put my calling on hold after God called me to be a pastor. God shut every door that I was seeking until I surrendered to the path that God had chosen for me. Praise God for His faithfulness to us as He lovingly “shuts doors” for our good and His glory!
People try to find their identity in everything from goals they set, to relationships, to jobs, to whatever seems to bring them satisfaction for the moment. When identity or security is threatened, people respond by shutting down, lying, becoming angry, or some type of reaction that is a result of the internal problems that are brewing.
These people need to be led to the cross of Jesus Christ. These people need to know that Jesus can free them from thinking wrongly about how they view life or themselves. Circumstances, failure, and other problems lead people to become frustrated and anxious. Guilt, bitterness, anger, and fear are unhealthy emotions that can build up inside of people that have been painfully scarred. Conversations need to take place to get to the root of these unhealthy emotions. A listening ear could provide the outlet in which these people open a waterfall of emotions and memories that they have never expressed before. There is no pill, surgery, self-help book, DVD, or magic spell that can take away the years of hurt and pain built up inside of these people.
The love of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can help these people to see that they do not have to remain in bondage to their emotions. The problems they struggle with on a consistent basis can be gone. For some people change is immediate. For some, change is a process.
Proverbs says that a friend is closer than a brother. It is times like these that these people need that friend. They need someone to love them through and to show them the love of Jesus and pray grace and mercy over their life. They need to know that they have not lost hope, it has just been misplaced. They need to see that Jesus is all the hope they need. There is a light at the end of their tunnel, a way out of their valley, and it comes in the form of the person of Jesus Christ.
- I will take that bill to the post office tomorrow.
- I will wash the dishes before bed – then you go to sleep and wake up and they are still in the dishwasher.
- I will fold the laundry tomorrow.
- I will write that blog post later.
- I will answer that email later.
- I will return that phone call later.