August 16, 2016


All of us know what it is to feel ashamed. It is never a pleasant experience. It is something we seek to avoid. Our parents tried to teach us what we should be ashamed of by saying, “You should be ashamed of yourself for doing that.”

More than 100 times the Bible makes reference to shame. There are 12 or more Hebrew words that are translated shame. Sometimes the word confound or reproach is used for shame. There are 6 Greek words for shame. The word ashamed is, of course, just another form of the word shame. In general, the word means the emotional distress that accompanies guilt.

The first time the word ashamed is found in the Bible is in Genesis 2:25. “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Adam and Eve were still in innocence and had no reason for being ashamed. In Romans 1:16 the Apostle Paul said he was not ashamed. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” In II Timothy 1:11-12 he made mention of another situation he was in in which he could have been ashamed, but he wasn’t. “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

Sometimes we are put to shame by the wicked deeds of others. II Samuel chapter ten tells about a time when king David sent some men to console a man by the name of Hanun because his father had died. The men he sent were taken as spies. They shaved off their beards and cut off their garments, leaving their buttocks exposed. Verse five says the men were greatly ashamed.

Being ashamed is not a pleasant experience, but sometimes it is to our benefit. It is like the pain we suffer when we hit our finger with a hammer or touch something hot. It teaches us that there are things we shouldn’t do. It is a deterrent to sin and wickedness in the world.

Sometimes we are ashamed when we shouldn’t be, but more often we are not ashamed when we should be. Jeremiah 6:15 tells about people who suffer the judgment of God because they are not ashamed. “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” I Timothy 4:2 tells how that can happen to us. “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” If we go on sinning against our conscience it will no longer speak to us. We will no longer be ashamed when we should be.

Fortunately there is a solution for that ugly feeling of shame and guilt. For the Christian, the solution is found in I John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” After confessing we need to stop doing what we were ashamed of. It is doubtful if repentance is genuine if there is no desire to depart from sin. The shame we suffer because of negligence, or what is called “sins of omission,” is found in II Timothy 2:15. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

As much as possible, we should live free from shame. We will never be 100% free of shame in this life because we are imperfect beings. In Romans 7:19-20 the Apostle Paul expressed what we all struggle with. He said, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” The consolation he found is expressed in verse 25. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

In a message that God directed Isaiah to give to Israel he enumerated the benefits of being fearless. It is found in Isaiah 54:4. “Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.” It is interesting that 5 of the Hebrew words that are often translated ashamed are found in this verse. The words shame and ashamed appear three times, but they are three distinct Hebrew words. The words confounded and reproach are also often translated shame of ashamed.

The fear of reproach often brings shame. Young people often struggle with this in what is called peer pressure. To please the crowd, they may give into sin that they are later ashamed of.

Let shame do its perfect work in your life. When facing temptation you need to ask yourself, “If I yield, will I later be ashamed of it?” Don’t give others reason to be ashamed of you. Most of all, don’t give God reason to be ashamed of you. II Corinthians 5:10 says that the day will come when we will be judged by him. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”


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