“Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?'”
Shutting down shame without examination doesn’t heal us.
***This excerpt first appeared in Shame Off You***
Shame defines us if we let it. The decision is truly ours. Do we give power to the lies and the shame or do we choose to rise above the noise and live by God’s power instead? There is a purpose even in shame that God can use to redeem the messes we make. There is a better way.
The onerous power of shame that humiliates us can be turned into the very tool that liberates us. Humility arising from shame related to our own sinful behavior can lead us to repentance when we are empowered by God’s love, grace, and truth. False humility from shame others place upon us or from self-imposed shame can be exposed. We can escape shame’s clutches when we respond to conviction from the Holy Spirit and are free to admit our shortcomings and let go of labels that just don’t stick anymore.
The stigma behind certain words can have shame attached to it. Single parent. Divorce. Sexual abuse. My heart still aches at those words, but not in the same manner it once did. The shame I felt from the misdeeds of another was not the story I had envisioned when I married a Christian and home educated my children, but sin or shame is not a respecter of persons. In an instant, our lives can change drastically when someone brings sin and shame into the picture. But that is not the end of the story. Our all-powerful God has overcome all of our shame.
What we think is an end is just a beginning with our great God and Redeemer. What I thought was my destruction was His mighty deliverance. Romans offers a promise that we don’t deserve, but what a promise it is: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (8:28 NIV).
Yes, even when we feel forgotten and buried in shame, our God is not going to leave us in that place. Shame, the very thing we despise that seems to limit us all our days, can be used for our good when we humble ourselves and turn back toward God. But the choice is up to us. Shutting down shame without examination doesn’t heal us.
Condemnation is a powerful tool of the enemy, sometimes wrought at the hands of others and, surprisingly, sometimes by our own. But there is a Deliverer who wants to set us free from this tangled mess of shame. He invites us to examine ourselves and to heed the invitation that conviction brings, while letting go of condemnation’s grip.
Shame Dismissed: Using the Biblical Lens
Encircled by men pressing in and yelling at her, ready to hurl stones upon her, the adulteress could only cower in a ball on the earth and wait for her punishment. Fully exposed, perhaps both physically and figuratively, she was completely broken and likely not expecting mercy that day. She did not anticipate that Jesus would first examine those who condemned her.
The response of God, who sees all, was radical:
They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you? (John 8:7-10 NLT)
God did not just come to take away our sin but our shame too. The adulteress might have felt she deserved her punishment. She might have heaped shame upon herself. But God removed the condemnation from her accusers and her own heart. More than that, God removed His condemnation too.
Like the adulteress, we can have shame for something we have done in our lives or that was done to us. People might also try to place more shame upon us. But when we invite the Master in and confess our sins before Him, our shame is removed, and our status renewed. We are no longer defined by shame and its many insidious devices. We are defined by our new identity, hidden in Christ (see Colossians 3:1-4). To have our identities “hidden in Christ” is to have them securely tucked away. Even if the world may drag us down and try to redefine who we are, our true identities cannot be changed. They are hidden (locked) in Christ.
I can hear some of you saying, “I wish it could be like that for me.” It can, friend. But escaping shame is not a once-and-done proposition. As we explore the many different faces of shame in our lives, we will learn to remove the condemnation shame brings and accept God’s gift to us as He takes the shame off you and me.
Why live with shame when you don’t have to? God has provided a way for us to remove shame and live in victory. Come and release your shame in Jesus’ name. Shame Off You details a biblical method for removing shame and is available at many retailers. Here are a few places you can get Shame Off You. Let me know you bought Shame Off You and receive a free bonus digital download.