Age and Guilt


Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. Genesis 42:21-13

         It appears at this point that Joseph’s brothers are accepting the responsibility for the hard times they are experiencing. They are reviewing their past sins against Joseph and are connecting the dots between wrongdoing and consequences. Wouldn’t everybody, given the same circumstances? That’s the question. Don’t most people, with age, own their mistakes?

         I can’t even count the numbers of people I’ve talked to who decided, after many decades, to confront an abuser from childhood. There was a kind of magical thinking that people in their senior years would admit the truth. It’s assumed that godly guilt would have set in at some point in their lives. But hopes for fairness and justice are smashed when the confrontation goes poorly. I’ve heard a comment like this more than I can count. “How could a man, at 67 years old, still deny that he did anything wrong?!”He does, and we will too if we’ve not bent our heart to the Teacher over the years. Truth can be shunned no matter what the age. Only a truth seeker will own his mistakes.

         One of the hardest parts of growing up is to see the adults of our lives; teachers, pastors, lawmakers, etc. with adult eyes. Our childhood vision begins to clear. With it comes the painful realization of someone who sinned against us. Thoughts of confrontation soon follow and when anger drives the timing of it, instead of the prompting of the Spirit of God, the results are usually heart-rending.

         Is there a way to tell ahead of time whether someone will be receptive to truth when confronted? While not entirely ironclad, I believe there is. Does that person have a track record of owning truth? Is the person humble? Have there been smaller things that the person has been willing to own and apologize for?

         The sad truth about people in general, even the elderly, is that ‘men love darkness rather than light’. And, ‘the way is narrow and few there be that find it’. In the midst of this reality though, you and I can pray for the Spirit of God to open blind eyes. God is powerful and prayer can till up hardened soil of unbelief. One last thing ~ confrontation should always occur on the other side of forgiveness When the heart is hot ~ keep silent.

Older doesn’t always mean wiser. Keep us from cynicism. Amen

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