Shame Kills— There is a Godly conviction that leads to repentance, it gives us the wisdom and desire to turn away from something, to turn to God for help—and he gives it. That’s different from shame. Shame makes us turn away from God, quite the opposite of conviction.
Conviction is the voice inside of you that says you are doing the wrong thing, it may be your conscience or it may be the Holy Spirit, in either case it is a good thing that hopefully prompts you to do the right thing.
Shame on the other hand is a deep seated soul eating feeling of despair from which there may seem to be no escape and rather than prompting us to do the right thing it can quite often have the opposite effect and drive us right into the thing that caused the shame in the first place. Worse, it keeps us running, and or, hiding from God.
Conviction makes us dig in and try harder. Shame beats us down and makes us give up; leaves us hopeless. That’s not what our God offers:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Romans 10: 9-11
Poop on the floor
I remember when I was in 1st grade in the little town of Cloquet Minnesota we had our Gym Class in the cafeteria. I remember very little about this class, but I remember well the day we were doing calisthenics and we were all spread out across the cafeteria/Gym in our designated spots and the teacher told us to get on the floor and do sit ups. I looked down on the floor to where I was supposed to lay and saw what I was sure was poop. I know this sounds gross and I have no idea where it came from but my 6 year old mind was convinced that somehow someone had left a couple of brown nuggets on the floor.
Now maybe it was part of a brownie, I don’t know, but I was not going anywhere near it. I raised my hand and explained to the teacher that I could not get down in my designated spot because there was poop on the floor. Surely no one could expect me to sit in such unsanitary conditions. The teacher came over quite brusquely, glanced quickly at the floor and declaring it poop free commanded me to drop.
I refused. She became quite upset and began berating me, I don’t remember what she said, only that I was quite dismayed and quite bewildered that she would not recognize a turd for a turd; this was grade school, was it that absurd that someone may have had an accident and had something roll out of their pants?
Apparently it was and I was dubbed a fool. At the end of class she had me stand next to her in the hallway after my classmates had gone back to their room and declared to the next class that was coming in that ‘I was naughty and would not listen to the teacher’— Something to that effect. All I remember for sure is that she was doing everything she could to embarrass me, to shame me.
But I was not having it because I knew I did not deserve it. She was not about to shame me because I would not accept it. All she did was make me hate Gym class and convince me that she was mean and unreasonable. The worst part to me was, no one cleaned up the floor for the next class. Gross!
We are trained from earliest childhood to accept shame whether deserved or not. We are trained to dish it out, deserved or not, every chance we get. In the classroom, on the playground, in our homes and even in our churches. Too many lives have been destroyed, too many people have been alienated from the church when they needed them the most because they were put to shame. I find it all very disturbing.
“Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame” A pretty bold statement, yet how often do we judge people in the light of shame, how long do we hold them there? How can we do to our brothers and sisters what the Lord says cannot happen? Can believers do shameful things? Yes, it’s called sin and as John said,
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
But they can be forgiven, the very next verse says:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
And thus the shame is removed, the stain is gone, the page torn out and thrown away, at least from God’s book. How about yours? Do you have a book of offenses? Offenses you have committed and offenses others have committed against you? You need to tear out those pages and throw them away “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified” not your actions, and the same goes for those around you. You are not their judge, only God can see the heart.
He sees yours— and he loves you.