We live in a culture where shame and guilt permeate and infect everything and everyone.
People are being told to be ashamed of the color of their skin. They are being made to feel shame and guilt for their professions—I saw a tweet that told all police officers to be ashamed of themselves for being nothing less than a police officer. Men are being told to be ashamed of being a man—the emasculation of men—depriving man of his role and identity as a man is at an all time high. Dads are being portrayed in movies, on tv, and in social media as bumbling idiots who need to apologize for being a dad. Women who chose to stay at home with their kids are representing an archaic form of womanhood, and should feel shame and guilt. And women who chose to be a part of the workplace are being told they are horrible wives, and mothers, and should feel guilty.
I even read somewhere a man apologizing for loving women and not men. The latest is people feeling ashamed of being an American. What’s next, feeling shame and guilt for being a human being… There is no facet to a person’s life that is off limits—nothing is sacred to shame and guilt.
Shame and Guilt.
Shame and guilt come in many forms—words, humor/sarcasm, voice inflections, body language, and there is always that look. Shame and guilt have one goal and that is to destroy someone’s dignity—to put a person in their place, to let them know they are lower than low, that they are nothing. To show them they are wrong and we are right!
Many who use use shame and guilt justify it with saying they are only trying to make that person better or they’re just letting them know what they did was wrong and hopefully they won’t do it again… Really what they are doing is covering up their own insecurities and deficiencies and projecting them onto some else. We see this from the very beginning. Satan, out of his own insecurities and deficiencies, when we tried to usurp God’s authority and tried to make himself god, pushed his insecurities and deficiencies onto Adam and Eve.
Take a look at Genesis Chapter Three—God, when he confronted Adam and Eve, didn’t tear them down with words or looks, instead he spoke truth in love to them. He asked them why had they been hiding from him. Their response to God was out of their own conclusion of their self-prescribed shame and guilt. Adam and Eve after listening to the lies of Satan felt ashamed, and it wasn’t just because they were naked, it had more to do with the fact that they chose themselves over God. It took God to redeem the situation.
God had to move Adam and Eve beyond their shame and guilt so they could be reconciled and restored to their proper place with him. He passed judgment on Satan—the root cause of this whole debacle; and told everyone how he was going to fix it what was broken—which ultimately leads to the cross of Christ (Genesis 3:15). As a result of their actions, Adam and Eve’s lives were made harder, they were thrown out of the garden. But God didn’t abandon them—he left them with clothing to cover up their nakedness (The Lord God made clothing for them—Genesis 3:21). And they were still able to continue to have a relationship with their Creator.
God never shames or guilts people—it is not in his character or his vocabulary.
Once shame and guilt infiltrtate a persons heart, then the “passing the buck” game begins. It did with Adam and Eve, just read Genesis 3:12-13. And once that happens there is potentially no end to it—there is always more shame and guilt to pass around. Something beyond the person’s shame and guilt must move them out of this destructive spiral. Something more powerful and life-giving. This is where Grace and Forgiveness come into play.
Grace and Forgiveness.
Shame and Guilt are the opposite of Grace and Forgiveness. Shame and Guilt disheartened and destroy, while Grace and forgiveness encourage and restore. God never shames or guilts people—it is not in his character or his vocabulary. Shame and guilt lead to a loveless and empty life with the ultimate outcome of death. God is the opposite of this. Look at Jesus’ words after he confronted the religious leaders who were condemning a blind man for worshipping Jesus after he was healed by Jesus,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” —John 10:10
Jesus came to give life not death. His message is one of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. Jesus’ mission and purpose is one of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation—removing all the barriers between God and man throug his death burial, and resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). Satan wants you to think your place is among the condemned, but Jesus says your place is right next to him. I love this quote from Dave Stone,
“Satan knows you by your name but calls you by your sin. Jesus knows your sin but calls you by your name.”
Jesus moves us beyond our shame and guilt, and puts us right next to Him. Jesus had no sin, and through his shameless and guiltless life, he passes on his righteousness to us. He tells us this is how our Father in heaven sees us—without shame and guilt all because of the love of Jesus Christ. But it doesn’t stop there! Jesus tells his followers to be like him and spread the message of love, grace, and forgiveness. Shame and Guilt have no place in Jesus’ Church! These words should be foreign to us and not natural. Shame and guilt is the language of the destroyer, Satan. the Apostle Paul tells Jesus followers to demonstrate a different kind of language,
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” —Ephesians 4:29
We are not to be people of shame and guilt, but people of a second chance—a second chance on life. That is what grace and forgiveness do—they give us a second chance. I had a conversation with someone about guilt and shame. the other day. It was kind’ve sad. They were sharing with me about someone close to them who has gotten themselves into a bit of a rough patch. This person won’t turn to the church, because they feel they will be led deeper into their shame and guilt. You know what there might be some truth to those feelings, but there shouldn’t be any truth to those feelings in the church. All should be welcome no matter their situation, circumstance, or place. If they are not, then where else can they go in order to be made whole again?
Now there is a time and place for us to confront people about issues in their lives, but you better make sure that you are the one God has put in that person’s life to speak love and truth to them. If not, all you are doing is reaping even more shame, guilt, and condemnation on that person. It is not always our job to make people feel bad about themselves—in fact it never is our job! What we get to do is to love Jesus and love like him. We get to partner with people who are broken, hurt, lost, and weak. We get to love them, show grace and mercy to them, and we get to forgive them. Why? Because we all were once broken, hurting, lost, and weak. We are all in need of love, grace and mercy, and we all need to be forgiven. Here is what Paul said to the Christians in the Colossians church,
“bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” —Colossians 3:13
Grace and forgiveness don’t leave much room for shame and guilt, because there is no room for it in Jesus’ Church.It is not our delusional right to be Judge, Jury, and Executioner. Only Jesus can do this perfectly. When we chose grace and forgiveness we help others and ourselves begin to live a life free from condemnation, sin, and death. We experience a life to it’s fullest—one that our Father in heaven destined for us from the very beginning.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” —Romans 8:1-2
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.