John 8:1-11 presents the vivid story of the woman caught in adultery, who is brought to Jesus by the Pharisees intent on accusing him. The Bible interestingly states that Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. Finally, when the crowd left without stoning the woman, Jesus stood up and asked her about the accusers. A remarkable thing we observe here is that Jesus avoided any deed or word that would have made the condemned woman feel ashamed or guilty.

‘Culpable of or responsible for a specified wrongdoing’ or ‘justly chargeable with a particular fault or error,’ are two definitions for the term ‘guilty’.

Conflict between personal values and the choices one has made is one aspect that causes guilt. A person may never want to give bribes but is somehow coerced to. Another person may speak very highly about a virtue, but would fail to practice it. A thought or desire that one believes s/he should not have had. Some even feel guilty when they take care of themselves, presuming that they should have been taking care of others. And there are people who feel guilty of surviving a trauma or disaster that snatched away others’ lives.

One of the best things anybody in leadership or responsible positions can do is to help people overcome guilt in their life. Multitudes carry heavy burdens and are unable to experience peace and joy in life. ‘Never mind’, ‘It is okay’, ‘No worries’, ‘Cool’ are some of the terms we need to use often in our interactions with people. Instead of blaming people and making them feel guilty, a good approach would be to motivate them to apologise, correct or make up for a wrong, and help them behave responsibly.

Practicing gratitude is considered the best means to overcome guilt. Thanking loved ones for their kindness, extending genuine appreciation, and acknowledging any opportunity gained as a result of their support are some of the ways to practice gratitude.

Jesus came to liberate us from guilt and fear. The best opportunity to experience this is by having a personal encounter with Jesus. The healing of guilt and the ensuing freedom is an important thing that happens in renewal retreats, etc. I assume that most of the readers of Kairos Global may have had such a liberating encounter with Jesus. If not, my humble recommendation is to pray for and desire such a personal experience through which you experience the liberating love of God our Father.

Let’s all be able to lead happy, joyful and satisfactory lives sans guilt. Let’s strive to make everyone around us lead guilt-free lives too.

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