Imagine the effect of constantly feeling guilt deep in your heart. Do you think that months and years of a guilty heart would have an impact on your health? The BBC reported the results of a study that indicated that people who felt guilty had lower levels of immunoglobulin A. High levels of immunoglobulin A are associated with a strong immune system, and the ability to fight off illness. The researcher’s previous studies showed that people with low levels of guilt were less likely to go to the doctor, or to report suffering from colds or flu.
Not surprisingly, the writer of Psalm 38 experienced the health-related consequences of guilt. The guilt of his sins “overwhelmed him” and was a burden that was “too heavy to bear.” His “exhausted” and “crushed” nature came from an “anguished heart.” Like the author of this Psalm, if our heart is crushed and exhausted and remains this way for a period of time, we will eventually experience an adverse impact on our health. It will look differently for each of us because God made us each uniquely.
The easiest way to prevent any adverse health-related impact is to not sin in the first place. Psalm 119:35 reminds us that when we follow the commandments of God we find happiness. If we follow the guidelines God gives us in the Bible we will be less likely to have a sense of guilt. This guilt-free lifestyle will have a more positive effect on our health.
So, what if you do feel guilty because of doing things that you believe are not honoring to your body or to God? You can ask for forgiveness from God. You can confess your sins to Him and to others. (James 5:16) This can give you a sense of freedom in your spirit and in your heart. This sense of freedom will have a positive impact on your health. (A helpful article appearing in The Christian Century on guilt, confession and mental health is at this link.) That’s one of the values of the Christian walk. We can know that God does forgive us when we ask for forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 reminds us that through His son, Jesus, God has forgiven us.
What can you do? Try to live a life that lines up with God’s principles that He gives us in the Bible. Minimize behaviors that give you a sense of guilt. When you do experience guilt, confess your behavior to another person and to God. Ask God for forgiveness. Try your best not to repeat the behavior that caused your guilt.
Go have a healthy day!