Shame. Others may use the word “guilt” or “embarrassment.” One dictionary defines shame as “a painful, social emotion that can be SEEN as a result of…” Without formally defining it, most people have a true definition of shame as they feel it and see it as a result of terrible decisions and grievous mistakes made.
Everyone reacts differently to sin and bad choices, but we have all felt shame from disappointing God, self, and others. People will do anything to avoid such “painful emotion.” No one loves that feeling.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve were not ashamed (Genesis 2.25). What joy would that be to have a mood where nothing in your life (e.g., thought, motive, word, or action) is embarrassing, shameful, or worthy of disapproval from anyone? However, sin changed all that for Adam and Eve - and us. They hid themselves, just like we do. They covered up, just like we do. They cast blame, just like we do. Turn away. Don’t call. Don’t answer calls. Stay way from family. Stay away from friends. Stay home. This is what we do to avoid the shame.
All means of avoiding shame FAIL. No effort at eluding shame has proven successful. “…And be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32.23). “He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28.13).
In their shame from sin, Adam and Eve lack the desire to accept responsibility and be redeemed. Having figured a way to destroy the character of everyone around them, cover up, or hide, there is no need to apologize or admit wrong. There is no desire to come clean, no need for reconciliation, and no want for purity.
Shame in our hearts needs to find its source. Do not look for it in society or culture. The world has trouble recognizing sin, its origin, and its consequences. Some people grow up in a “shame culture” at home and feel useless and worthless already, failing to see any possibility of hope or recovery. Blame is laid at the feet of innocent children for things which they did not cause. Living in an abusive home with constant exposure to guilt brings unwarranted shame, creating the idea that everything bad that happens in their lives is their fault. “You’re a bad child.” “You can’t do anything right.” “You should have never been born.”
People have to unlearn the false means of shame and listen to the truth about the shame which can lead to true forgiveness, peace, joy, and hope.
When the truth from God speaks about holiness versus sinfulness, an honest heart will feel the shame. He or she will understand sin violates God. Being born does not violate God. Being born and growing up as a child may give a parent an excuse to cover up his or her own sin, but it is one’s personal sin which brings shame, not the world nor a society’s lack of admitting responsibility.
Hearing or reading scripture, one will begin to believe, “That passage is talking to me.” Indeed, it will. It is not due to the shame of where you live, how you were raised, the house you live in, your work, or the abuse you suffered as a child. Shame from those things produces paranoia, depression, and anxiety. The shame produced by scripture comes from its content - TRUTH!
Truth rocks our world because of the lies we live. Living such lies is what produces the shame. Where then is the remedy? How is this shame removed? What takes it away?
Learn and live by what David said in Psalm 32.1: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is covered.” Hear what Jesus said in Revelation 3.18: “Clothe thyself, that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest.” Apply the words of Psalm 25.1-3: “Unto Thee, O Jehovah, do I lift up my soul. O my God, in Thee have I trusted, Let me not be put to shame…Yea, none that wait for Thee shall be put to shame.” Surrender to the reconciling of your life to godliness into the hands of the One who can cleanse and redeem - God. God is the only one who can cover the shame (Isaiah 61.1-3). If a shamed adulteress, persecutor of the church, and a nation can have shame covered by God, could He not do the same for you?
The beauty of covering shame is the wonder of transforming an old man into a new man. A transformation which brings no regret (2 Corinthians 7.10). All of this is made possible by the Christ God sent but man shamed, reviled, and mocked. How did Jesus handle the unnecessary and unwarranted shame? “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12.2). Jesus says, “Let me take the load of sin. Let me bear the shame. Do not let it cripple and ruin you.”