Perhaps you heard about the man who was on a diet and was dealing with guilt? Each evening, while his wife takes a shower, he raids the candy jar. Those few moments are full of great delight, as the man secretly enjoys his candy. But what can he do with the leftover candy wrappers? They alone provide the evidence of his crime.
The question today is: What do we do with the candy wrappers of our guilty pleasures? Those wrappers represent the evidence of an overt action we took that was wrong, and we knew it. Guilt is that inward feeling we feel when we commit an action we later regret. Some say that after committing a regrettable action, they have a guilty conscience. Others just feel bad all over, and cannot quite locate the source.
Psychologists say that there are several kinds of guilt. Valid guilt is how you feel when you commit an action that is wrong, and you know it. In that situation, you have earned the feeling of guilt. You should feel guilty if you steal a car or rob a bank. Valid guilt will make you hide the wrappers in a very secure place where you hope that no one will ever find them.
Invalid guilt is when you feel responsible for something that was totally out of your control. You may even embrace the guilt of other people and make it your own. Sadly, many children feel guilty when their parents divorce. Other people feel responsible for world poverty and other similar travesties. Invalid guilt can make many people collect wrappers that belong to other people and put them on display.
So, most people deal with guilt on some level, but not everyone. The sociopath completely lacks empathy, guilt, remorse or shame. This means that they can do practically anything, and then act as if nothing has happened. While normal people hide in shame, the sociopath boldly proclaims their heinous act, and seeks to profit from it. They eat their candy and the wrappers, and smile a crooked smile when someone brings accusation.
What do you do with your candy wrappers? How do you manage the evidence of your sin? Do you deny, deny, and deny until people who care for you walk away? Do you easily confess in tears, but then go right back to your failed ways? Do you brag about your misgivings and bully your way through life as though you and God have a special agreement?
Pardon me, but your candy wrappers are showing!
King David was caught in sin. Instead of jumping into the slime pit of denial, he cried out and prayed, "I have sinned greatly, in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity (sin) of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly" (1 Chronicles 21:8). That is the proper response when we feel guilt.
The only way to remove guilt is through Christ. We must confess our sin, repent for wrong actions, make restitution, and make a 180-degree change in the direction of our life. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He (Christ) is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Try it.