Thinking Little About Shame

…keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.  Hebrews 12:2

Shame is a powerful catalyst.  If I know I’m going to go somewhere and will feel any kind of shame, I will want to avoid going.  If God is calling me to a place where shame has been felt in the past, I will have to prepare myself to focus on God and His love for me.  Only He can counteract the toxic effects of being in the presence of humiliation.

What is shame keeping you from today?  Whom are you avoiding because of how they cause you to feel?  What setting is it that tempts you to believe that you are worthless?  Perhaps you are still healing from the last time you were in the company of someone who despises you.

It’s not just people who cause us to feel ashamed.  It can be a humiliating event.  The next time you have lunch with some friends, ask everyone to describe their most embarrassing moment.  Shame and humiliation will be involved.

Jesus didn’t ignore the shame of the cross.  He looked at it square in the eye and chose to despise it.  Instead of shame defining how He felt, He focused elsewhere.  What power God gives His child to endure shame!  Jesus is the ultimate example of God’s sustaining grace.

John Piper wrote this piece about Hebrews 12:2

Listen to me, Shame, do you see that joy in front of me? Compared to that, you are less than nothing. You are not worth comparing to that! I despise you. You think you have power. Compared to the joy before me, you have none. Joy. That is my power! Not you, Shame. You are worthless. You are powerless.

You think you can distract me. I won’t even look at you.  You are ugly and despicable. And you are almost finished. You cover me now as with a shroud. Before you can say, ‘So there!’ I will throw you off like a filthy rag. I will put on my royal robe.

You think you are great, because even last night you made my disciples run away. You are a fool, Shame.  That abandonment, that loneliness, this cross — these tools of yours — they are all my sacred suffering, and will save my disciples, not destroy them.

Farewell, Shame. It is finished.

As I read this, I was reminded that I must always look at the bigger picture, not my specific set of circumstances.  Whatever shame I have suffered never concludes my life’s novel.  It is a dark thread amongst the many golden threads of grace and redemption.

Your people spend a lifetime healing from shame.  You did it in an instant because You knew Your Father’s love and saw your eternal destiny.  Amen

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