The shame that we bring upon ourselves can be deep. I’m not talking about the shame we had as a child. There’s much difference between a four-year-old who wets the bed and adult who carries some deep secrets from their past.
We also could talk about present shame, perhaps something you’re struggling with now. Problems which you can’t seem to tackle. Things that you are dealing with that you wish you were not. Something you did last night, last week, or something years ago.
While shame and guilt are closely related, they are different. Guilt is being rightly accused of something you have done. If I am guilty of something I either owe apology to someone, retribution, or should be punished for something. I have written about guilt in another blog post.
Shame is the next level of the onion, beyond guilt. Someone can remove guilt through a variety of means, such as confession, repayment, pay retribution, or serve time when found guilty. You can then find freedom from guilt. But even when guilt is gone, shame can linger. You can be free from being guilty of something, but still feel shame from having done that thing. So how do we get rid of shame?
I love how Psalm 34:5 talks about shame.
“Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
What a beautiful picture of how to remove shame.
If we think about shame we often think about children. A child does something and is found guilty. They are punished. Sometimes after that we find them no longer guilty because they have been corrected, but they are still shameful. They’re embarrassed by what they did. We can see it on their face.
Look at Psalm 34:5 again. Not only are those who are forgiven by Jesus freed from shame, but they are radiant. To have shame removed is a blessing for sure. To move from being embarrassed by something that we did to not feeling shame is great progress. Some 34:5 takes it to the next level. We not only move from shame to being shameless, but we become radiant.
So how does somebody become radiant about something they should be ashamed about? For some it is hard enough to face life unashamed for shameful behavior.
Let’s think back to the child wetting his pants. Let’s say we have a four-year-old who is potty trained and begins playing with friends. He gets distracted and wets his pants. How would you help remove his shame? What we would do is say listen, this happens to a lot of people. Maybe you would tell him it happened to you when you were a child. This would probably remove their shame. But how would we take that to the next level?
I think what we would need to do is remind them of how great they are. And we can remind them how much we love them, and tell them great things about them. We could make them feel great about themselves again. We could end this with a big hug for our child, the kiss on the head, and positive reinforcement. This would take a child from shame, to being shameless, to becoming radiant.
This is in some sense is what Jesus does for us. I realize that the illustration breaks down at times. We can look to Jesus to cover our shame. Is it that some of our sin is not shameful? No, often all of it is. We should be embarrassed by some of the sins that we commit, especially when we know better.
Here’s what Jesus does for us. He reminds us that we are still sinners and therefore we will still sin this side of heaven. That does not excuse our sin or give us a license to sin more. Romans 6:1 reminds us of who we are as humans, and it reminds us of who we need to depend on.
Second he reminds us that we are his children. It’s the same way that we release our own children from shame when they sin. He speaks to us and reminds us that although we have messed up and what we did was shameful, we are children of the one true king. Although we make mistakes, positionally we are still his children. There is comfort in knowing that we are still loved even though we sin.
Lastly we look to the cross. And we know that if we have put our faith and trust in Jesus, he has forgiven us of our sin. One day in heaven we will be perfectly restored to the people whom God originally created Adam and Eve to be. We look forward to that one day when we will be in the presence of God and will be seen by God as perfect through the lens of Jesus. Because we will not sin in heaven and that is our final cleansing of all sin. He will not remember any sin we and will stand perfectly shameless and radiant in the presence of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit themselves.
You might ask, “If I am a Christian, why do I continue to experience shame?” First there are times when shame is good. It could prevent us from doing things that are shameful. It protects us from sinning and the consequences of it.
Second, it might be because you have not confessed your sins. I’m not talking about this in the eternal sense of being forgiven and accepting salvation. Once you have put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation through his blood, you can never become unsaved.
I’m talking about daily and regular confession, not asking Jesus to save us every time we make a mistake in this life. Instead, confessing that which we have done wrong in asking for earthly present forgiveness for that sin. If you feel shameful of your past or even present, confess that sin and become cleansed from it. Realize that I John 1:9 says if you confess your sin Jesus will forgive it.
The problem is we often still feel shame because we leave sin unconfessed. Once you have confessed to sin, don’t allow Satan to defeat you and constantly rub your face in sin forgiven by Jesus. Realize God has paid for your sin, and removed your guilt and shame.
Third we forget who we are in Christ. We feel shame even after confessing sin and knowing we have been forgiven. This is because while we may feel forgiven and have moved from being shameful to shameless, we forget that we are children of God and never take that last step toward being radiant. Sometimes the person we need to preach the good news of the Gospel to the most is ourselves.
Are you ashamed of something that you have done? How are you handling it? Have you moved from being shamed to feeling shameless without the step of taking on radiance? Do you need confession, accepting forgiveness, or just being reminded that you are a child of God to become radiant once again?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.