I’ve been thinking about the word “shame” lately. We all know what shame is, but I think we rarely think of it in its full meaning. According to Webster, shame is a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. I’ve been seeing a lot of finger pointing on the Internet lately, with various groups shouting at each other, “have you no shame?” In essence they are accusing the other of some shortcoming or impropriety.
Did you catch that last word? Accusing. Accusing others. We do it all the time in our thoughts. We look at how someone is dressed, or speaks, or drives. Perhaps they have a political or moral stance far removed from our own. We wonder, we accuse, we impart shame on the other.
Now I’m not saying that some of these people are not doing shameful things. When people twist the word of God to make it approve any sin, be it unfaithfulness, immorality, gluttony, or homosexuality—this is a terribly shameful thing. Not only does it belittle God’s word, but it influences others to do the same.
But there is a difference between being a sinner and perpetuating the sin. A sinner is trapped in their sin. They can’t behave differently. Those of us who have accepted Jesus remember being in that same condition. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 6:9–11
Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
And this is the thought that I’ve been mulling—how is it that we as Christians are ashamed to admit that we used to be like this, when those very sins made us desperate and in need of a Savior?
I have only begun to realize how important the truth is—more so than our shame—since I published my book. In my book I shared about struggles I had gone through that almost no one knew about. Even after I’d been through therapy, I was too ashamed to talk about what some of it dealt with.
Last week I was talking with a friend. To my utter amazement, she began to open up with me about her personal struggles, struggles that she had known were there but couldn’t identify. She shared with me the wisdom of her counsellor, and then stopped in the middle, saying, “Debbie, I know I can share these things with you. After reading your book, I realized that of all the people I know, you would understand.”
My friend left me with much to pray for and much to think about. How many people have I NOT been available to help because I was so absorbed in my shame, that I didn’t realize God had turned it into a crown of glory. No my sins were and always will be sins. But God turned the result into something glorious—His good work in me.
I share with others about God’s work in me, but only now, am I able to be honest about just WHAT that work was. What He delivered me from. What I experienced.
And my dear friends, THIS is the message that a hurting world needs—such were some of you— sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, practicing homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, verbally abusive, swindlers—BUT God delivered you.
This is the wonderful message of the gospel, and every time we let the shame of our pasts prevent us from sharing the truth of just WHAT Jesus delivered us from—someone who needs the hope we received is denied that hope. They don’t know that others have been through the same hell they are going through. They don’t think you understand. They think that Jesus could deliver you, but not them.
Yes, we need to be wise about when and how to share, but what was once our shame is not our shame any longer, because
the one who believes on Him will not be put to shame.
Remember what I said about accusation at the beginning of this post? That is what the devil does and that is what we do to ourselves. We think about our pasts and accuse ourselves. How dare we accuse ourselves and our pasts (or listen to the devil’s accusations), when Jesus, through His shed blood, has forgiven us and clothed us in robes of righteousness. He died because of our sin, to deliver us and save us. This is the power of the good news—the Gospel.
We all were dressed in filthy garments. We don’t need to compare whose garment was dirtier. But there are people out there who need to know about our dirty garments, because theirs are just as dirty as ours were. They need the same relationship in Jesus that we needed and now have.
The next time you think about shame, may these words encourage you to pray for the other, and ask the Lord how He can use You to be an inspiration to someone else who is where you were.
Just for You! Here is a screensaver to remind you that we are washed in HIS pool of grace! Just right-click on the link to download the size screensaver you want.