Overcoming Shame

Christians are forgiven, but not perfect. The Lord will not condemn us and He will remember our sins no more. We, however, have to live with the temporal consequences of our own attitudes and actions. If God eradicated all the temporal consequences, there would be no motivation to stop sinning. We would party on weekends, confess our sins on Sunday, and falsely believe that our actions have no negative consequences.

To illustrate, suppose you consumed alcohol for years and became chemically addicted. At first you were able to cover up your indiscretions, but eventually your sinful lifestyle is exposed. Your job performance becomes sub-standard, you embarrass yourself publicly, your spouse leaves, and your health deteriorates. Finally you throw yourself upon the mercy of God. He forgives you and makes you a new creation in Christ. However, alcohol has taken its toll on your body, the job is over, and the wife is gone, and you find out that society is less forgiving than God.

Micah spoke to the sinful conditions of Israel and Judah, and looked forward to God’s redemption (Micah 7:7). However, their enemy was gloating over these “chosen people” who had sinned, and incurred the judgment of God. They were saying, “Where is the Lord your God” (vs. 10). Micah responds, “Though I have fallen, I will arise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light” (vs. 8). The shame they felt, because of their sin, caused them to hide and cover up, but the Lord always leads His people into the light. When they faced the truth and turned to God, their enemy was covered with shame, and their downfall was certain (vs. 10).

Many cultures of this world are shame-based. They punish sinners by shaming them publicly. They make the point that something is wrong with them. Other cultures are guilt-based. They punish sinners because they have done something wrong. The kingdom of God is grace-based. There was something wrong with us, but now we are new creations in Christ. We have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but Christ has died for our sins. Now we can live a righteous life as children of God. If we choose to sin, our loving Heavenly Father will discipline us, but that just proves that we are His children (Heb. 12:8).

As children of God, we are not motivated by guilt and shame. We are motivated by the love of God. We don’t condemn others when they sin; we discipline them for their good. We don’t shame one another; we build up one another.

Dr. Neil

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