Shame is a hugely powerful negative emotion – more powerful than guilt. When we feel guilty we feel tension, remorse and regret and most of us would want to apologise and trying to reconcile. Shame makes us feel small, worthless and powerless and tends to lead to more hurtful behaviour like hiding, escaping or shrinking back. In many cultures bringing shame on the family leads to honour killings.
The Bible was originally written in honour-shame cultural context. What did Adam and Eve feel when they were the first to sin? Ashamed. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection deals with our guilt and shame. Hebrews 12 tells us for the joy set before him “He endured the cross, despising its shame and is seated at the right hand of God.”
Jesus who was in the highest place of honour came and shamed himself as a man dying on the cross to take away our shame. When he rose again and ascended to the right hand of the Father - he was restored to the place of highest honour taking us with him. So that we are seated in heavenly places with Him!
A man was married to a woman that he dearly loved for many years. Yet they were never as close and intimate as he desired and he couldn’t figure out why. Truth is she was filled with shame - she had been molested as a young girl and been promiscuous through much of her teenage years. She even cheated on her husband during their engagement and didn’t share her dark shameful secrets with him. After many years she finally told him what she had done and what had been done to her.
The truth devastated her husband who would never have married her if he had known of her infidelity and may have walked away from her as damaged goods if he had known about her lifestyle. At this point she feared he would leave her and want nothing to do with her.
Then he did do the unthinkable: he left their home and she did not know if he would return.
But because he knew the gospel. He went to a shop and bought her a new clean white nightgown. He returned and asked her to undress in from of him and clothe herself in white, which she did. He then said he had chosen to see her not by what had been done to her or done by her, by solely by what Jesus had done to forgive her sin and cleanse her shame. He hugged her and prayed for her and she wept tears that purified her soul as her shame was despised by the love of Jesus and her husband.
If your life is filled with shame – come to Jesus and ask him to cleanse it.