From Shame to Honor
Have you ever suffered embarrassment from harsh, unfeeling, and undeserved words that have been spoken in criticism or judgment? Have they left the mark of shame on your life?
After a message I shared with our church regarding two things the devil uses to disable followers of Christ – pride and shame – a woman from our congregation asked to share with the congregation. She said that during the past week an acquaintance of hers had derided her concerning her faith in God, that her friend shamed her.
Her prideful ‘friend’ said: “Your daughter was sick almost to death, your car was in an accident, you have money problems – what good does it do to go to church and believe in God, He doesn’t answer your prayers. I don’t go to church. I have four children and none of them are sick and I’m doing well without depending on God.”
Our church member continued: “It made me feel so bad. I’ve been feeling discouraged. And I have been crying all week. I know I was supposed to be here today for this message.”
Shame is debilitating; it causes believers to live under the cloud of doubt and uncertainty, hesitancy and timidity, depression and hopelessness – shame is not meant to be in the life of God’s child.
Some of our shame comes from others – from what they say and what they do to us. And some of our shame comes from our own participation with things of the flesh – things that end in our personal sin.
When we come to the foot of the cross and drop our burden of shame – seeing the Savior dying for our sins, shedding his blood to pay our debt, giving up His life to give us life – we should walk away from the cross with our heads held high, not hung down with a cloud of gloom surrounding us.
BC – before the cross – we had reason to be ashamed. AC – after the cross – things changed. Jesus came to do away with our guilt and our shame, no matter how that shame came upon us; to give us new life.
There are several reasons we no longer have to be ashamed:
- Because we trust in Christ for salvation and the forgiveness of our sins:
Romans 6:22-22 – What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
1 Peter 2:6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
- Because we have made Jesus Lord of our life
Romans 10:8 “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess 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 confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.
- Because God calls us “sons”*
Hebrews 2:10-11 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 Both the one who makes men holy [Jesus] and those who are made holy are of the same family.
- Because Jesus calls us his “brothers”*
Hebrews 211-12 – So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.”
You are no longer an outsider, an outcast, a failure, a loser, a no good son of a gun. You are a child of God, a member of His family.
Recently I shared on Facebook and Twitter a God-tube video of Christopher Coleman.
He was born dead and laid aside; when his twin sister was born about 15 minutes later and cried, Chris suddenly gulped a breath and cried. But because he was oxygen-deprived for 15 minutes – the doctors were certain he would be severely handicapped and suggested putting him away in a permanent facility. Christopher’s parents made the decision to keep him. Only those who have raised a handicapped child know the hardship of such a decision.
Since the video does not go into detail, we can only guess at the difficulty of attending to this young child’s needs. Yet, Christopher’s mother always gave him encouragement and planted hope in him from early childhood. She was his cheerleader and pointed him toward his Savior and Maker, the Lord God.
Christopher was not sent to school with his twin sister when she started attending, but at age 5 he taught himself to read from his sister’s school books. He later graduated high school and at God’s instruction attended a college in Marietta, GA where he graduated with honors in a Communications major.
God told Christopher that He wanted to use him. Chris can’t walk, has limited use of his hands, and labors to speak clearly. Yet he travels and shares his testimony about how much God loves him and saved his life for a purpose. The Lord has chosen him to “confound the wise”.
God has a different philosophy than the world does: the world worships success, wealth, material things, popularity, education, intelligence, influence, abilities, skills, but God chooses the foolish things of this world to shame the worldly wise – the arrogant.
1 Cor. 1:27 “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; “ (Authorized Version)
“Confound” means to stun, amaze, puzzle, mystify, bewilder, baffle, perplex and leave people speechless. That’s what God wants to do through the weak and foolish from the worldly view.
Maintaining our trust in a loving God in spite of circumstances is what confounds the “wise” around us who don’t know our God. We have no reason to be ashamed.
We have a couple of apple trees in our front yard. Because the trees had years of neglect before we acquired the property, the apples that come from those trees are misshapen, wormy, and small, with somewhat tough skins. But when I cut away the apples’ “shame” they are very tasty. They make wonderful applesauce.
I take the time each autumn to “redeem” these apples – to make something good out of them. They would go to complete decay if I did not intervene – like Jesus intervened for us.
Our Heavenly Father sent his Son, Jesus, to redeem us; to take fallen, misshapen, sin-stained, shameful and shamed people – some of us with very tough skins – and make something “tasty” of us.
Because Almighty God, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, is a God of love, He delights in taking his creatures from shame to honor – to leave the wise of this world stunned, amazed, puzzled, mystified, bewildered, baffled, perplexed and speechless.
Are you ready to give up the shame of your life – to exchange it for a life of honor?
©2011, Marcy Alves
* “sons” and “brothers” – in the New Testament refers to both men and women. This is actually an elevation of women in the culture of that time – particularly in the Jewish culture where only sons inherited from the father. In Christ we all have the rights and privileges of “sons” and “brothers”. (see We’re the ‘sons of God’ . . . So What?)
- The Low-down on Shame (briancoatney.com)
- No More Shame (lindalou10.wordpress.com)
- Day 20: Wearing the Mask of the Walking Dead: Shame (gracefullwomen.com)
Posted on October 27, 2011, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, God Encounters, My Journey, Reflections and tagged brothers of Christ, child of God, Christianity, criticism, embarrassment, Forgiveness, God’s child, God’s love, honor, hope, human value, Jesus, judgment, physically challenged, physically handicapped, Religion and Spirituality, shame, shame to honor, the cross. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.