Oh, The Shame

I don’t know about you, but there have been moments in my life when I have been inundated with feelings of guilt and shame. I think we all have had those moments. Sometimes the guilt & shame we felt was absolutely justified and sometimes the guilt & shame was absolutely unfair and should never have been embraced. Often we have a hard time telling the difference.

I recall feeling guilty and embracing shame one fine Saturday afternoon as we played our Junior League baseball rival. A hard hit drive from our opponent came screaming down the third base line (I happened to be playing that position at the time). The ball hit the dirt about 10 feet in front of me, then proceeded, as if perfectly targeted, to strike my sternum in such a way that every microbe of air exited my lungs leaving me collapsed on the ground. Oh, I had the ball, but the immediate pain and shock delayed my reaction to throw it to first and our opponent ended up with the, what was to be, the winning run on first. During the moment, my short stop cried out, “Throw the ball.” All I could do was mouth the words, “I CAN’T BREATHE!!! I felt guilty and I was ashamed for letting my team down.

Wikipedia describes guilt as a judgment or experience that occurs when “a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.” Shame is the pain that results. As believers, we need to know that the Bible tells us that guilt and shame should only be embraced or rejected according to whether we have dishonored or not dishonored God. Paul tells Timothy that he should not be ashamed of the Gospel or of those who preach the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:8). Many in the world may try to shame us when we share our faith in Christ, but we should never embrace these feelings when doing something that honors God.

We should also reject guilt & corresponding feelings of shame when we have done nothing to dishonor God, but may have been inappropriate or inadequate according to others expectations (such as when I was unable to throw a ball to first base while doubled over in excruciating and debilitating pain). Neither should we embrace these emotions when someone else dishonors God, but we place their guilt upon ourselves because of unfair association. Isaiah 50:7 says this, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” In the next Disciple, we will talk about when guilt and shame should be experienced and how to bring it under the authority of Christ.

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris