Should I Be Ashamed?

January 29, 2016

                                     Should I Be Ashamed?

Should you be ashamed?  It all depends; maybe so, maybe no.  There are times when we should be ashamed.  There are other times when we shouldn’t.   Jeremiah 6:15 says, “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.” Shame puts a noose around our neck and stops us from doing things that make others ashamed of us.  As we see from the above verse, there are serious consequences of not being ashamed.  Shame is a good thing when it causes us to avoid doing things that we should be ashamed of, or that would cause others to be ashamed of us.

Shame is one of the consequences of sin.  It is often spoken of as a feeling of guilt.  There is a close relationship between feeling guilty and shame.  The feeling of shame or guilt is the work of our conscience.  The Bible says that it is possible that our conscience may be “seared with a hot iron” (I Timothy 4:2).  When that happens, we may not be ashamed when we should be.

The feeling of guilt, or shame, leaves us with stress or anxiety.  We have a negative opinion of ourselves.  Thankfully, God has provided a solution for that.  I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is very possible that there will be something more we will need to do.  If we have hurt others by our sin, we will need to confess it to them also and ask them to forgive us.  We may still have to pay the price that society lays upon us for the wrong we have done, but we can do it with a clean conscience.

We also need to address the negative side of shame.  That is when we are ashamed when we shouldn’t be.  Let’s suppose there is a young lady who name is Susan.  She is ashamed of her appearance because she has an ugly face.  Her nose doesn’t come to a point like that of most other women. She is pug nosed.  Cosmetics don’t help it.  There just isn’t anything to change it.  It gives her a feeling of low self-esteem.

If Susan is a child of God, she is almost certain to find consolation in the Bible.  She can identify with the Apostle Paul who suffered from something he couldn’t change.  In II Corinthians 12:7 he says he suffered from what he called “a thorn in his flesh.”  “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”  In verse eight he says he prayed three times that God would take it away.  In verse nine he received his answer from God.  “And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” He resolved to glory in his infirmities.  In verse ten he even said he took pleasure in what he couldn’t change. “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Susan could also find consolation in I Peter 3:3-4.  These verses are directed to women.  “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;   But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Peter isn’t saying that women shouldn’t be concerned about their outward appearance.  He is saying that the hidden man of the heart is of great price.  In I Timothy 2:9-10 the Apostle Paul encourages women to give attention to their outward adornment.  “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;   But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”  If Susan gives attention to these things,  her pug nose shouldn’t be of much concern to her.

There are times when men also suffer unnecessarily from shame.  Let’s take Frank as an example.  He lost his job.  He wonders if it could have been because he wasn’t working as hard as he could have, but nothing was said about that.  Frank and his wife, like many, were living from pay check to pay check.  He couldn’t provide for his family.  He started looking for work.  Everywhere he went he was turned down.  He was tempted to think he wasn’t good for anything.  He wanted to just stay at home rather than go out and be rejected again and again. When he went to church he wondered if people there thought he was looking for a hand out.

Shame is sometimes caused by pride.  There are some who are ashamed to go to church because they can’t afford to dress as well as most of the people in the church.  Frank was ashamed because he couldn’t provide for his family.  He had to depend on the benevolence of other men who were working.  If Frank’s heart is right with God, he will accept the truth of Romans 8:28. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” No doubt God had a purpose for him being without work for a time.  Perhaps he needed to learn to trust God more.  Perhaps God wanted to test the people in his church to see if they were willing to share with those who had a need.

If we are a child of God we don’t need to live ashamed because of that which we can’t change.  We can leave it with God and rejoice in all he has done and is doing for us.  If you are ashamed of things you have done, that’s good.  You can solve the problem by confessing it to God and to others and leave it in the past.

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