Ashamed, no more

An attractive woman counseled with me years ago who felt powerful shame about her beauty. She had multiple failed relationships with men and wondered why. She revealed that 20 years before, as she became physically developed in her teens, when she dressed up to look pretty, her father would call her a whore and a filthy tramp. Unable to understand that he was transmitting his own feelings of shame about his sexuality onto her, she processed his cruel words into ‘truth’ about herself.

Parents who use shaming as a primary disciplinary tool are doing an awful injustice! Holding a child up to ridicule that confuses what she has done with who she is has terrible consequence. If you tell a little person he is worthless long enough, he will learn to believe it and most likely will treat himself like a piece of junk! Shame, which morphs into feelings of inferiority, will generally turn into dysfunctional behavior in a pursuit of relief. Paradoxically, the self-destructive choices lead only to deeper shame.

Do you ever have a memory sweep over you accompanied by feelings of intense shame? It’s not all that uncommon. Is that shame bad or good? Mostly, shame is unhealthy. Guilt can serve us well, moving us to seek positive change because guilt is formed around action. Shame is about who we think we are and thinking that we are worthless or beyond love serves no good purpose.

The glory of the Gospel of Christ is that there is forgiveness and restoration. God does not just forgive our wrong behavior, He gives us a new identity. He makes us whole, new from the inside out. Jesus Christ came into a world that was full of darkness and sin, and became the Light of True Righteousness. No longer did the shamed guilty person feel that his only choices were to hide his sin, or to cover up his nagging sense of shamefulness with good works, or by condemning others, or by finding temporary pleasure in even more sinful choices. He could be forgiven and set free!  Jesus says “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12, NLT)

When the Bible is used like a club to beat sinners with shame and to drive them deeper into despair, it makes me furious. Jesus seldom spoke to sinful behavior without offering the possibility of change.  Yet, today, Christians turn to shaming, rightly speaking to the sins, but wrongly making the sinner feel worthless, hopeless, and condemned.  In John’s gospel, we read about Jesus’ interaction with a woman, giving her back her worth, while challenging her to change her ways. “The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?” “No one, Master.” “Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” (John 8:3-11, The Message)

This is the same Jesus who loves us. He sees us not just for what we have done, but for who we can become in Him. On the Cross, He took our shame on Himself. And there He made it possible for us to become people of honor and glory.  At Calvary, the worst of sin met the amazing grace of God. The Scripture tells us “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15, NLT)

Are you living in shame?
There is no need to stay there any longer.

The word from the Word is a little longer today, but it is a powerful statement of what God thinks about WHO you are. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.” (Romans 5:8-11, NLT)  He hates sin, but He loves people. Let Him love you to life!


No Longer Slaves (worship at this link)

 You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

 I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

 From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into Your family
Your blood flows through my veins

 You split the sea so I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God

 Brian Johnson | Joel Case | Jonathan David Helser © 2014 Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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