A short while ago, I hurt a friend.
It wasn’t my intent.
What I thought were words of encouragement and hope, were not. Instead of blessing my sweet friend, my words ignited a fuse of confusion and distrust.
Had I known that something I said would cause such pain and grief, I would have kept my mouth shut. Tight.
But, it was too late.
The words, meant to extol and commend, were lost in waves of misunderstanding.
For an encourager like me, this outcome was devastating. Crushed and despairing, I resonated with the psalmist’s cry:
Lord, the LORD Almighty, may those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me; God of Israel, may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me.
New International Version, Psalm 69:6
I am wholeheartedly committed to growing and maturing in Christ and bringing my Savior honor and glory in the process. When I blow it with those He loves and with those I love, my heart breaks. To pieces.
Shame extinguishes the very life of me.
Shame is an awful, despicable parasite, isn’t it?
Like cancer cells, shame metastasizes quickly to form tumors of accusation, humiliation, and regret. Their life-draining, life-exterminating cells pour into the bloodstream to contaminate, impair, and harm the heart and mind.
We were never, ever, ever meant to experience this scandalous, shameful feeling. In their Lord and Creator’s presence, the first people on earth, Adam and Eve had no need of self-defense or self-protection – because they experienced a world without shame. The love, joy, and acceptance they experienced in the presence of the Lord, instilled a steadying and strengthening peace in their hearts. They reveled in paradise – without sin and without shame.
Alas, a tempter’s ruinous promise planted seeds of dissatisfaction and distrust. As Adam and Eve took their own consequential bite from a piece of fruit from the forbidden tree, condemnation filled their conscience. They remembered the Lord’s words:
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
New International Version, Genesis 2: 16-17
Shame thundered through the couple’s brain hemispheres sending neuron transmitters throughout their bodies with the shattering, debilitating truth. Their hearts, minds and bodies would never be the same. Exposed, vulnerable and foolish, shame would take possession of every generation’s hearts and minds to follow.
Shame’s malevolent, humiliating intent is to conquer and enslave us – for all of eternity.
When we say something we regret, make a foolish decision, choose a dishonorable path, or experience a scandalous humiliation, it isn’t long before we are drowning under the soul – crushing weight of our sin and our shame.
We could easily echo the words of Ezra, the prophet:
And I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt even to the heavens.
New International Version, Ezra 9:6
So, what do we do?
Is there a way to address the depravity of shame, the loss of our dignity and respect, the vulnerability and exposure of our poor decisions, and the disfigurement and shattering of our identity and purpose?
First, our promise:
Fear not, for you will not be put to shame. And do not feel humiliated for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth (your past). And the reproach of your widowhood (your failure, your mistake, your loss, your rejection….), you will remember no more.
New International Version, Isaiah 54:4
Second, our exhortation:
…fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God.
New International Version, Hebrews 12: 2
Third, our hope:
He Himself bore our sins (and our shame) “in his body on the cross so that we might die to our sins and live for righteousness,” by His wounds you have been healed.
New International Version, 1 Peter 2:24
As Jesus allowed his hands, his feet, and his body to be nailed to the scandalous, shame-inducing, murderous cross, he took into his heart, body, and soul every bit of our indecency, our wickedness, our guilt, our contempt, our rejection, and our shame upon shame upon shame upon shame, and died with it all. When Jesus Christ rose, three days later, every bit of shame’s enslaving power was overcome – once and for all!
Every scandalous act put to death and born into a magnificent, holy life in Christ.
Every indecent exposure dies and is made pure in Christ.
Every regret sinks deep within the living waters of Christ and is rebirthed in the fountain of contentment in Christ.
Every ugly disfigurement is transformed into a beautiful and delightful creation in Christ.
Every contemptuous word is silenced in Christ.
Every insult ends in Christ. His words of praise sing over us.
Every mockery is washed away as we are clothed with the compassion, honor, and respect of Christ.
Every rejection is replaced with invitation upon invitation of mercy and grace in Christ.
Every slave to shame and despair is set free and reconciled forever in Christ.
Every misunderstood word is made clear in Christ.
Imagine that, my friends. Imagine that.
Once, a very, very, very long time ago, there was a garden and a people without shame. And there can be again – now.
Jesus Christ personally and resolutely carried our sin and our shame in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and shame on this earth – now – and for eternity. We can live for what is right and true.
Because by His wounds we are healed.
Do you believe this promise to be true?
Are you experiencing disgrace, guilt, dejection, accusation, insult, misunderstanding, or any other matter of sin and shame?
You can be set free.
In Christ, who identifies with each and every shame experience we have ever faced or are facing now. He has promised to set us free from every single bit of its contemptuous power.
Would you pray with me?
Our thoughts are the most difficult thing for us to control. When something shameful happens, our thoughts are filled with remorse and self-condemnation. It doesn’t help that the evil one is quick to use the shame we feel against us as he desires to enslave us in a perpetual, and oh, so, destructive cycle of shame. And when others also reject, ridicule or even misunderstand us, we feel such a crushing weight of shame that it’s difficult to breathe. We’re devastated.
Yet, Jesus, we have your promise that even as our sin and shame pulls us down, you are still able to lift us up. We need your strength and your resurrecting power to help us. Only through you, through your love, your mercy and your grace can we be sanctified and set free from the debilitating cycle of shame.
Honestly, we have no righteousness of our own. Our righteousness comes through You, our Savior alone. We yield our every thought, every motive, and every action that detracts from living our lives in Christ to you and ask you to set us free.
Please forgive us, Lord for every act of sin and every shame-inducing thought.
We do not want sin and shame to reign in our lives – we desire You, Jesus Christ, to be Lord of our lives today.
We ask this in your name, Jesus. Set us free.