Shame can be the result of growing up in families that were highly critical; where love had stipulations. Shame is the byproduct of churches that concentrate on our being “wretches” rather than celebrate our being recipients of God’s amazing grace. Shame can also come from our deceiving ourselves by believing that if we do bad things it is because we are bad.
Shame is the quicksand of the soul. Shame puts our lives in peril. It pulls us farther and farther away from God as it causes us to sink lower and lower into despair. The more we fight it, the more we fail. The more we fail, the deeper we sink.
Our shame, whether it can be attributed to loveless parents, graceless churches, or our relentless selves, can all be traced to the same source: Satan himself. The Bible calls him “the father of lies.” It is his voice we hear that says:
- You don’t deserve to be loved.
- You’re nothing but a wretched sinner.
- God will never forgive you.
Every false message we receive has the devil’s return address on it. He weighs us down with his lies, seeking to immobilize us in our pursuit of a godly life. His mission, stated in John 10:10, is simple: to steal and kill and destroy. He seeks to steal our sense of worth, kill our spirit, and destroy any relationship we have with God. Shame can accomplish all that.
There is but one thing that will save us from being swallowed in the muck of shame. We must grab hold of God’s truth. We must let His love lift us. We must believe with everything in us the messages He whispers in our ears:
- You are my child (John 1:12-13)
- I love you dearly ( Col. 3:12)
- You are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16)
- I have chosen you to be mine (1 Pet. 2:9)
- You are fully forgiven (Col. 2:13-14)
- In my eyes you are holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4-5)
- I have the peace and hope you’re desperate for (Rom. 5:1-2)
Because of His great love for us God sent His Son into the world to free us from sin and shame. When we struggle with self-worth, when we are brought down by the devil’s lies, when we find ourselves sinking in faulty thinking, our only lifeline is Immanuel, God with us; He is there, kneeling at our side, seeking to save us from harmful, shameful thoughts. Once we take hold of Him and cling to His truth, we will be free.
Once we’ve discovered the peace and hope He longs to give us, may we look back and say as David reflected in Psalm 40, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”