<<feeling of disgrace, embarrassment>>

The painful feeling of humiliation or distress due to sin, sexual abuse, financial disaster, being an outcast of society or failing to measure up to the standards of others (Prov 10:5, 13:5).  Shame follows when the law of God is disregarded or forgotten and the conscience is not listened to, when discipline is not given or responded to correctly (Prov 13:18, 29:15). Even success, if not handled properly, leads to pride which also brings about shame, so give glory to God for the success and blessings received (Prov 11:2; Lk 14:7-11). Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve had no shame but after sinning they were bashful and shy (Gen 2:25, 3:7,10). Can you imagine their shame and regret —after all, they remembered the prior perfection of paradise. This was because shame produces a general feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness with the reaction of blaming others while in contrast guilt is a specific sense of transgression that acknowleges ownership for wrong action and inspire a restorative response.

Toxic shame is a generalized negative mindset, ‘there is something wrong with me…I am defective’. It is characterised by emotionalism, sarcasm, self-hatred, self-pity or a victim mentality and aggression. This destructive shame causes people to deny the facts and hide from the truth and light that can bring healing and empowerment (Gen 3:8-11; Jn 5:40). Reject any wrong beliefs and lies, such as being powerless and unable to solve the problem, instead replacing them with the truth of God’s Word, such as “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). Take ownership of your thoughts and give His truth priority and dominion over anything that is contrary to it. Live in His grace for He forgives and forgets what we repent of. This truth must become a conviction in our hearts that transforms us, so be honest, acknowledge and own up to your failures, for following confession and repentance there is release if there has been sin (1 Jn 1:9).

We have a tendency to put undue emphasis on sin and failure. Admittedly, sin is serious and can’t be disregarded as it will take people to hell, and it is the reason why Jesus died to free us of its penalty. Although there will be lingering consequences after we have repented, the focus must be on

Do not let the past shame hold you back –                                   deal with it and move on

walking in victory. Forgiveness is not a license to sin with a cheap ‘Oops, I’m sorry’ and then a continuation of the same lifestyle, but an opportunity to start again with a resolve to walk uprightly, “reckoning ourselves dead to sin, but alive to Jesus Christ” (Rom 6:11). In some areas, trust will need to be rebuilt and accountability measures implemented. Mistakes and failures indicate we have tried and failed. These are part of life and seldom are they final, so view them as growth opportunities indicating where and how you can improve.

While Peter must have lived with much shame and regret over his public denial of Christ, his deepened understanding of the person and work of Christ overcame his feelings of failure Mt 26:31-35,69-75; Jn 18:15-27). He realized that he was forgiven by the grace of God, and he moved past his personal regret to become one of the founding fathers of the early church. When we repent God forgives those sins we feel shame and regret over. We must move on, not wallow in self-pity or condemnation.

Aren’t you glad Jesus looked beyond the pain and shame of the cross to the blessing He would receive – multitudes of redeemed people enjoying heaven because of His sacrifice (Heb 2:10, 12:2).

Paul said, I am not what I should be, and to my shame what I don’t want to do, I end up doing. In my own strength I am defeated by sin but through Christ I am victorious (Rom 7:14-8:4). He further stated, he was not shielded from temptation, and in his own self was powerless to resist, yet through reckoning himself dead to sin and alive to Christ he was able to withstand it (Rom 6:1-23). Satan would like to cripple us emotionally through feelings of humiliation and shame, holding us captive and hindering our Christian walk. Unless addressed such restraint will prevent us entering fully into what God has for us but those who put their trust in God and live rightly, won’t be put to shame or be disgraced when they stand before the eternal judge (Ps 25:2,3; Dan 12:2; Rom 10:11).

See also: ashamed, baggage, condemn, conscience, disgrace, embarrassed, failure, guilt, self-condemnation. 

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