What is Shame?
Shame is an emotion, an internalized experience of humiliation that comes from external circumstances. It’s a feeling of inadequacy and is different than guilt. Shame prevents us from enjoying life, and causes us to retreat due to the uncomfortable emotions it evokes. An example of internalized shame would be feeling too ashamed to join a new group of friends. The Bible teaches us about overcoming shame and learning to be free from it.
What Does the Bible Say About Shame?
The Bible speaks of Shame in many places and as we read it and learn from it, we can understand more about shame and its effects on our lives. First and foremost, the Bible tells us that shame is something that God does not have in His plan for us. “The Lord will take away the shame of his people (Isaiah 54:4).” Furthermore, God does not want us to be ashamed of anything that we’ve done. He tells us “I will not be ashamed (Romans 10:11).” The power of the Bible is that it teaches us that our shame can be overcome and that we can be liberated from the bondage of our own conscience.
God also swears in the Bible that shame is not something that He inflicts upon His own people. In the Book of Isaiah, the Lord says “I will make a covenant with them and erase their sins and wickedness. And I will not remember their sins and lawless deeds anymore (Isaiah 43:25).” In this passage, we see God promising to cleanse us from all shame, guilt, and embarrassment that may have been caused by past sins. So, in the Bible, God clearly tells us that we are no longer bound to the shame of our past.
The Power of Forgiveness
The Bible teaches us about the power of forgiveness. It is only through the free gift of Grace that we can be forgiven of our sins and be released from the chains of our shame. We don’t have to be ashamed of anything that we’ve done because Jesus paid the price for our sins and mistakes. This is why it is important to confess our sins to God and accept His love, mercy, and forgiveness in return.
In the book of Romans, Paul reminds us “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Romans 12:2). Here, Paul is reminding us of the importance of putting on our new self, the one that has no shame and can be in close relationship with God.
Showing Compassion to Others in Need of Forgiveness
In addition to forgiving ourselves for the shame that has been thrust upon us, we must also be willing to forgive others for the hurt and pain that has been inflicted upon them. God calls us to have compassion for those who need to be liberated from shame. He tells us in the book of Ephesians “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).”
When others come to us in a state of shame and guilt, we must be willing to freely forgive them and offer healing words of encouragement. We must be willing to extend to others the same mercy, love, and forgiveness that God has extended to us. We must be willing to be understanding and compassionate towards others in need of forgiveness. In doing this, we can help to liberate them from the bonds of shame and guilt.
Overcoming Shame in Everyday Life
What is more, we must also take steps in our daily life to overcome shame. We must be willing to take decisive, concrete steps towards feeling better about ourselves and towards finding a sense of purpose and worth in our lives.
The Bible encourages us to practice self-care and to work on projects, hobbies, and interests that make us feel good about ourselves. The Bible tells us to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are fleeting, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18). This means that we should focus on those things that the world does not see, but that will continue to bring us joy for eternity.
Making Wise Choices to Avoid Shame
Finally, the Bible encourages us to make wise choices in avoiding activities that lead to a life of shame. We should strive to live a life worth following and to act in ways that are pleasing to God.
The Bible calls us to stay away from activities and lifestyles that can lead to shame or harm. This includes avoiding activities that can lead to addictions and promiscuous behavior. We must also take steps to avoid experiences that can lead to feelings of shame and guilt.
The Purpose of Shame
The purpose of shame is not to make us feel isolated and helpless but to help us overcome and learn from our mistakes. We must be willing to learn from our past experiences and grow from them in order to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
God wants us to realize that no matter the extent of our mistakes, He still loves us unconditionally and will never leave us in our time of need. He is always there to help us, no matter how much shame and guilt we experience. The Bible tells us “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).” This means God is with us always and that we have nothing to be ashamed about, no matter what we have done.
Compassion and Mercy Toward Self and Others
The Bible teaches us to extend compassion and mercy to anyone who is in a state of shame. We must be willing to show love, even when someone does not deserve it. God desires for us to love and forgive even when we are in pain.
The Bible also reminds us to be gentle and patient with ourselves in times of need. We must be willing to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and to make amends for our wrongdoings. We must trust that God will give us the strength and courage to make things right.
The Bible encourages us to take steps to boost our own self-esteem and to be proud of who God has made us to be. This can be done in part by pursuing activities that will fill us with joy and enthusiasm, such as spending time with friends, trying new hobbies, and being part of positive relationships.
We must also spend time reflecting on our own self-worth and the infinite love that God has for us. We must be willing to embrace our mistakes and to learn from them. We must always keep in mind that the Lord will never leave us in our time of need and that He will always provide us with strength and courage to overcome any obstacle that we may face.
Unconditional Love of God
The Bible teaches us that the love of God is unconditional. He loves us regardless of our mistakes and shortcomings. He desires for us to be liberated from our shame and to know and experience His amazing love and grace.
The Bible tells us that no matter what we have done in our past, God will always love us and accept us with open arms. He tells us “The Lord has taken away all shame (Isaiah 54:4).” In this passage, we see that it is God’s desire to free us from the burden of shame and to show us His unconditional love.
Providing Comfort and Support
In our time of need, it is important to remember that we are not alone. We can find comfort in knowing that the Lord is always with us. God promises us in the Bible “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God (Isaiah 41:10).” When we are struggling to find comfort in our shame, we must remember that the Lord is always there to provide us with hope and peace.
We must also be willing to reach out to family and friends when we are in need of comfort and support. Our community and loved ones are essential to our healing process and can help us to find peace and joy in the midst of our shame.
Releasing Shame Through Prayer and Worship
The Bible also encourages us to release our shame through prayer and worship. We can find comfort and healing through prayerful moments alone or during times of group prayer. We can also turn to worship for healing as we remember God’s faithfulness and mercy.
The Lord says in the book of Psalms “Restore us, O Lord God of Hosts, let your face shine; that we may be saved (Psalm 80:19).” In this passage, we can see that God desires to restore us from our shame and to grant us peace and restoration through His abounding love.
Learning to Love Ourselves
Finally, the Bible tells us to love ourselves. We must be willing to acknowledge our flaws and weaknesses, but also to recognize our strengths and talents. We must accept ourselves for who we are and embrace our imperfections as part of our uniqueness. We must understand that we are worthy of God’s love and grace, no matter how flawed we may be.
The Bible tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12: 31)”. This reminds us that we must extend love to others and to ourselves in order to create harmony and balance in our lives. We must understand that even in our moments of shame, we are worthy of God’s love and compassion.