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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

22 November 2008

Forgiven but Feeling Guilty

Q: I previously asked a question and your answer was very helpful, thank you. My new problem is that in my past, before I was saved, I stole a large amount of money from my employer. Now I work for a different person in the same field. He is a strong Christian; as a matter of fact, he got me going to church. He is becoming my best friend and I feel guilty because he gave me so much trust. I would never do wrong by him but feel he would lose trust for me or even fire me if I told him. God has forgiven me and I’ve repaid the victim of my crime and served jail time for my actions.

I would greatly appreciate your wisdom on this problem. Thank you so much.

A: When you were hired, were you required to say anything about your past? Specifically, did you lie about what happened?

Eagles' WingsIf your boss hired you solely on the basis of what you promised to bring to the company and if your performance since then has led him to trust you and keep you on, don’t worry. You’ve made amends, paid society’s debt, and, most importantly, received God’s forgiveness in Christ. Since God forgives and forgets, I urge you to follow His example and not torture yourself.

Satan loves to lead us to doubt our forgiveness. He exploits our emotional weaknesses, turning them into spiritual traps. He cannot harm us when we are “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)” Therefore, he works to change our focus, directing our eyes inwardly, upon ourselves. Whether he points us toward false pride that denies need for forgiveness or false guilt that denies the fact of our forgiveness, he succeeds when we turn away from our Lord Jesus Christ.

The only reason to bring up your previous sins is if you hid them by lying to your employer. Then, I encourage you to confess and ask for his forgiveness and understanding, especially since he already realizes that you aren’t the same person he hired. We would pray, of course, that he would have compassion for the way you’ve been accusing yourself and treat you with kindness.

If you’ve not deceived him, then let your past be buried and enjoy your present life in God’s grace. For, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)” So “wait for the Lord”; trust that He will “renew [your] strength” and carry you “up with wings like eagles. (Isaiah 40:31)”

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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