Updated: Jul 7, 2021
By: Steve Saindon
Shame is a soul-eating emotion." -C.G. Jung
Shame, boatloads of shame
Day after day, more of the same
Blame, please lift it off
Please take it off, please make it stop.
-"Shame" written by Seth Avett & Scott Avett
I am thankful for healthy guilt feelings. They stop me when I am headed in the wrong direction and prompt me to go the right way. But I see no redeeming value for shame of any kind. Guilt says, I did something bad and ugly. Shame says, I am bad and ugly. Some people have lived within an atmosphere of shame (self-loathing) for so long that they don’t even know what it would feel like to breathe in good and gracious thoughts about themselves. The Bible actually says we are supposed to love ourselves. Obviously not in a narcissistic or selfish way. Truth be known, a person cannot truly love others if he (or she) intensely dislikes himself.
The insecurity that shame causes will prompt us to hold back in our relationship with God and others. We will parcel ourselves out in “acceptable bits and pieces.” Joy bringing intimacy is strangled by low self-esteem. And a low self-esteem is the fruit of a soul that has been conquered by shame.
The most effective remedy for shame is learning to look at yourself the way God does. The Bible actually says that we are, “wonderfully made”.... “a masterpiece”....”a beautiful piece of poetry”..... and “the work of a master artist.” Furthermore there is no favoritism in God. He loves everyone with the same deep, perfect and passionate love. I love what the Bible says in Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
How much you pay for something reveals its value to you. It reveals how you feel about that object. It determines its worth and beauty. How much would I love someone if I was willing to give up one of my children for them? Could you even measure the length, breadth, depth or height of that love? Of course I would never do anything like that. I can’t even imagine that thought crossing my mind. But that is exactly what God did for you and I. The cross defines who you are in the eyes of God. Do not let yourself or anyone else other than God determine your value, beauty or worth.
King Jesus entered our world to completely take away ALL of our sin and shame (Heb. 2:11, 8:7-12, 9:14, 10, 1Tim. 1:12-17). We are often flooded with shame because we know in our soul that we do not deserve salvation. Of course that’s always going to be the case. None of us will ever deserve being saved. But that’s the point of grace. If you think you need to get yourself in a place where you deserve it, you are not living by grace, which is the only way to be saved before our holy God. However, you can know that you don’t deserve it yet KNOW you have it at the same time. Sincere followers that still stumble can be ultra-secure. Insecure Christians have trouble being effective with good news because their lack joy and peace stifles the message. 43 years ago when I first visited the church, what brought me back was not the sermon, the band, the elaborate cathedral, but rather the inexpressible joy that saturated the fellowship. It was a convincing and magnetic joy that could only be produced by shame-free souls (Isa. 55:5).
A big key in becoming shame-free is to put your faith in his faithfulness, not ours. When the Bible says we are saved by faith the emphasis is not so much on the quality of our faith but rather THE QUALITY OF HIS FAITH.
“ Therefore, since we are encompassed with such a great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. LET US LOOK TO JESUS, the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, DESPISING THE SHAME, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. For CONSIDER HIM who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and your hearts give up.
Hebrews 12:1-3 MEV ( emphasis mine )
Jesus is the AUTHOR and therefore the authority of our faith. He is the only one who defines what faithfulness looks like. This is why the New Testament is so adamant about following him. We cannot make up a new path because of the difficulty of the course that he has laid out for us ( Mt. 7:13-14 ).
Jesus is the FINISHER of our faith. The Christian faith includes qualities like cross-bearing, holiness, love, grace, trust, reverence, obedience, work, fellowship, hope, and endurance. Excelling in these all-important ingredients is not enough to secure salvation and smother shame. Jesus graciously puts the finishing touches on our loyal but imperfect faithfulness. Without grace there would be no hope. Grace makes up for what we could never accomplish on our own. Running hard after these qualities does not mean you earn your salvation. Jesus is “the SOURCE of eternal salvation for ALL who OBEY HIM” ( Heb. 5:9 ). The idea that you “do not have to do anything to be saved” is an insidious false doctrine. Clearly commitment doesn’t save us, Jesus does. But he will not give grace to those who are following their own course and think little of the expectations that are lined out in the Bible. The “faith only” cheap grace crowd who do not understand how Paul and James could ever sit at the same table, have deceived many into an anorexic faith that does not save or deal with shame. King Jesus will graciously forgive us and heal us if we genuinely follow after him.
This is so important because many times people who “merely believe” in Jesus wonder why they still struggle with so much shame. No one could overcome shame without the sacrifice of Jesus, yet we must sincerely do our part. Trusting AND following Jesus will eventually defeat shame.
True Christians are IN Christ and therefore are fully and forever forgiven. This is why the Bible calls us Saints and the holy people of God. Because of this undeserved status “we have peace with God” ( Rom. 5:1 ). Meaning, we already have a shame-free relationship with him. As long as we continue to genuinely follow Christ he will keep us completely safe within his grace. So, if this is true, why do so many of us still struggle with so much shame? This is why I wrote this book.
JESUS DESPISES SHAME! Jesus didn’t die just to forgive our sins but to also eliminate ALL of our shame. Jesus hates shamebecause it puts barriers, blockades and baggage inbetween us, him and others. It ruins the joy producing intimacy that we were created for. God’s greatest desire is to be intimately close to each and every one of us. having a compliant relationship with God at a distance, he is not satisfied with that. Even being impressively obedient but not intimately close, believe it or not, leaves our God wanting. These truths were desperately prayed about by King Jesus on the eve of his crucifixion. If you want to understand what God desires more than anything else, study that tear-filled prayer in John 17. He wants our hearts and souls to be one with his like in marriage. Like in a perfectly shame-free marriage!
It is vital that we learn how to identify and deal with the shame that festers within our inner-being. This ugly emotion is why so often it is difficult to draw near to God and one another. It’s why we run away from intimacy even though we long for it. It’s why we run away from God. This little book will not exhaust the subject of shame that is so big, powerful and complicated. Hopefully it will “prime the pump” in creating a much more joyful experience with God. At the cross our kind-hearted Savior took ALL our shame upon himself so as to heal our souls. It’s "boatloads" of “SHAME ON HIM” so it can be “SHAME-OFF YOU.”
Those who LOOK TO HIM are radiant; their faces are NEVER covered with shame. - Psalm 34:5 (emphasis mine)