Shame is that little voice inside that constantly whispers:
“There’s something wrong with me”
“I wish I’d never done that”
“If people really knew who I am they’d walk away from me“
“My sins are too big to be forgiven”
“God couldn’t really love me”
When we entertain these thoughts, they take root and start to grow, until they effect every area of our lives and our relationships.
The Voice of Shame is a Liar
Psalm 44:15 “We can’t escape the constant humiliation; shame is written across our faces.”
I read this chapter with ‘fresh’ eyes this morning. So many of the psalms, whether written by David, or other songwriters of the day, are beautiful worship songs to God, describing His love, power, splendour, majesty, faithfulness and goodness among many other of His great attributes. Yet this Psalm is an outpouring of feelings of abandonment and humiliation and sense shame of the people, collectively, at the hand of their enemy. They’ve forgotten about the love and faithful care of the Lord their God.
Have you ever felt like that? And then immediately felt ‘ashamed’ for feeling that way, so tried to hide your feelings from God? (as if you could!)
And then, of course, you couldn’t possibly let other people know that you felt that way inside. They might think you’re not ‘super-spiritual’ enough! I’ve felt that way at times.
Just as these beloved ones of God in Psalm 44 had very real enemies, so do we, as His beloved children, have an enemy; The enemy of our soul, Satan, whose great desire is to keep us in that place of shame.
We start accumulating shame from childhood. Often shame involves trauma, abuse or neglect. Sometimes it’s caused by events at school, such as insensitive comments by a teacher, or the popular kid in the class, who made fun of the way you looked and everyone laughed.
Some people have had a ‘wild’ past, before knowing Jesus, involving drugs, or multiple sexual partners.
I grew up in “a household of shame.” My father was an alcoholic and we were told constantly, “don’t tell anyone.”
If my siblings and I had grown up in this modern era, Social Services would probably have taken us into Care. But back then families swept that sort of thing under the proverbial carpet.
As a result, for many, many years, I carried a deep sense of shame. Even to this day, although I know that God has freed me from the tyranny of shame, and for the most part, I walk in that freedom, Shame is my nemesis – it’s one of the lies of the enemy that I frequently have to address with the Truth of what God’s Word says about me.
I’ll let you in on another “shameful secret” about me; my first marriage of 16 years failed – 15 years ago. Even ‘worse’ – even MORE ‘shameful’, we were in full time Christian ministry .
Does that make either of us failures as a Christians?
Only if we allow it to by listening to and agreeing with, the propaganda that Shame continually tries to declare over us!
Declared ‘Pure as Snow’
Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
If you are being held captive for a past that you have repented of, and redeemed from, then that ‘captivity’ is a lie! God declares you “white as snow”.
Are you a disciple of Jesus? Do you know in your heart of hearts that you belong to Him? But then, every now and again, when you least expect it, that nasty little voice of shame whispers into your ear: “Unworthy” “Useless” “Invisible” “Unclean”. “God doesn’t really love you, after what you did.”
Do you agree with Shame’s propaganda and lies? The moment we start to entertain those thoughts, we are standing in agreement with the enemy. We’re giving permission for Shame to set up camp in our hearts.
Shame is your enemy! I definitely do not want to be aligning myself with the enemy.
What Your Father God says about Shame
“Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:11
Every time you or I entertain thoughts of shame, and allow those to develop into feelings of shame, we declare ourselves unworthy, despite all The Bible says about our position in Christ. And when we do this, we reject God’s precious gift – freedom from shame.
“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood.”
Freedom from Shame – Staying Free
Isaiah 1:18, which I quoted earlier, is one of those most quoted and loved verses. Who doesn’t need to be reminded that “you will white as snow”?
However, this morning I read on and noticed this: Yes, there is freedom from shame. There is also an “If” and a “But”
“If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Remember when you were little, and your mum would smack your hand for poking your fingers into the electrical sockets? Was it because she didn’t love you? I think it was the opposite. She knew the consequences. She couldn’t bear to think of her child being incinerated because of disobedience. There are natural consequences for our actions.
God’s commands are always motivated by His great love for us. No one knows my heart and understands me better than my Father God.
He follows that wonderful promise in verse 18 by saying “Obey me”. “Listen to me, don’t turn away from me and refuse to listen to what I say about you! – Otherwise the consequences will be that your enemy will get the better of you.”
If we want to walk in the freedom that Jesus purchased for us – total freedom from shame, we need to start listening to Him. And stop listening to the voice of Shame. We need to soak ourselves in the truths of The Word of God – he says it there, in verse 19, “if you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat”. Remember, when Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness- he turned to Satan and said “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”.
God’s Word nourishes us from the inside out, giving us everything we could possibly need. But He doesn’t tie us to a chair and force-feed us.
We need to feed ourselves on God’s Word, listen to and BELIEVE what He says; to align our hearts with Him, not with Shame.
Jesus Disregarded Shame
In Hebrews 12:2 we are told that Jesus, as he faced his terrible crucifixion (for us!) “endured the cross, disregarding it’s shame”.
Part of crucifixion was the public shaming and humiliation of the one being crucified. People stood around and jeered, mocked, spat upon, shouted insults.
Jesus endured the suffering of the physical pain on the cross. But he “disregarded the shame”. The shame that his enemies were hoping to pour on him had absolutely no power over Jesus.
Jesus defeated Shame! For you. For me.
Let’s live in that victory over Shame that Jesus won for us!