For When The Shame Threatens To Crush Us

April 11, 2017


A few days ago I screwed up. I committed a sin I hoped to never commit again. I know you can relate.

And the shame has threatened to cripple me. To hold me in that place of despair indefinitely. To drive me back to my sin and hold me captive in my brokenness. But that is not what God desires for me. Or you.

I am a sinner. I crave the created things more than I desire the creator of my soul. I make decisions that hurt me and those I love. I fall. Again and again. 

Oh friend, I know you can relate. 

This quote from Spurgeon was the balm my soul needed,
"I believe that as often as I transgress, God is more ready to forgive me than I am ready to offend." - Charles Spurgeon

I so easily imagine God as hesitantly forgiving me. But God is not hesitant, is He?  He is not torn or divided. He does not forgive out of duty or compulsion. God desires to forgive us. He is eager to forgive us. Even, Spurgeon reminds us, more eager to forgive than we are to sin. What a beautiful truth.

No sin you or I can commit is greater than God's desire to forgive it.  

Guilt and shame are not the same thing.  Guilt has it's place.  It says "I've done something bad."  It drives us to repentance and reconciliation.  But shame says "I am bad." Shame is wholly and destructively contrary to who God says we are.  Instead He calls us His children, forgiven and made new. 

Scientists will tell you that shame ignites our fight or flight responses. But we don't need a scientist to tell us that when we want to curl into a hole and disappear, or come out swinging at a world of mutual disappointment. 

Shame is isolating.  It drives us away, makes us crumble and hide. But God's call is into relationship and community.  God convicts our heart to draw us unto himself, to bring us to repentance because he desires to redeem us. He never condemns. The God who stepped into our muck and mire longs to be with us. 

There is no condemnation for those in Christ.  Not for last year, not for last week, not for an hour ago. No condemnation.  

Shame is this deep and painful sense that my frailty has been exposed. I've put my faith in my own accomplishments, my own feeble attempts at holiness, instead of God's redemptive love. And I failed. But God has not failed. His redemption has not stumbled or faltered.

Gods love is so perfect that he could not love us more even if we had never sinned.  Take a moment to let that wash over your weary heart.  God doesn't do a half-assed job of cleansing us.

Friend, whatever you've done, whatever shame you carry, and I carry, it was paid for on the cross long before it even crossed our minds. You are not defective, you are a sinner in need of grace, sometimes a messy broken sinner in need of a raw and urgent grace. But the God who does not change or lie tells us that our sins are as far from us as the east is from the west.

Today I am choosing to believe God's love and forgiveness. Will you join me? Not a denial of who we are, but a steadfast hope in who God is.  Friend, let us cling wholly to a grace deeper than our depravity.

"Are you a believer and afraid of your old sins? You are afraid of foes which do not exist." -Charles Spurgeon

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