Thursday, April 13, 2017

Overcoming Shame: Following the Example of Jesus

I believe each one of us has an area of shame in our past – one that seeks to devour our joy and silence our testimony. Maybe, like me, you have more than one.

Like worry (which I wrote about last week), shame is also a tool of the enemy. He uses this tool, however, to cover us with darkness and hold us captive. With our shame, Satan makes us feel as if we carry our burden alone - like we’re the only one with such a dark, ugly past. 

He whispers lies such as, “If you dare share the truth and try to overcome, you’ll face certain ridicule and scorn. No one will understand. You’ll be an outcast. It’s best to keep your secret to yourself.”  Perhaps you’ve heard similar whispers in your own ears.

Remember this, my friend: Satan is a liar. He has no authority to rob us of the finished work of the cross. We must learn to discern his lies, resist them, and walk in the light of the truth.

Discerning the Voice of Truth

When Jesus speaks, He uses words of love, endearment, encouragement and hope (see John 17, for example). Conversely, when we hear the hiss of the snake who is Satan, we’ll hear words of condemnation, guilt, discouragement, and humiliation. While it’s tempting (yes, I said tempting), to accept the enemy’s accusations, they are contrary to God.

Here’s the danger: When we entertain thoughts that are contrary to those of the Holy One, we’ll surely work in ways that are contrary to His purpose.

I don’t want to work contrary to God, do you? I want to follow Him wholeheartedly. God gives us the ability to discern which voice is which. As we embrace that God-given ability, let’s follow God’s instruction to resist the enemy so that he flees. (James 4:7).

Following the Example of Jesus

Let’s look at the example Jesus set when it comes to shame.  Remember, our Savior is One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15). Perhaps you’ve never considered that He faced shame, but by considering the following, I think you’ll agree that indeed He did:

            Jesus faced the shame of rejection (Luke 4:29).

            Jesus faced the shame of abandonment (Mark 14:40).

Jesus faced the shame of ridicule (Mark 15:15-32).

Jesus faced the shame of exposure (John 19:23-24).

Jesus faced the shame of torture (Matthew 27:27-30).

            Jesus faced the shame of my sin (and yours) as He bore each one (1 Peter 2:24).

How Did Jesus handle the shame? He despised it.

Some translations say he scorned it, or disregarded it, or ignored it - by enduring the cross (see Hebrews 12:2).  Read that again: Jesus endured. He didn’t let shame keep Him from fulfilling His purpose. He wasnt shaken off course of ministry. He stood firm and unwavering.  He didnt hide or shirk back from His purpose.

Hidden things fester and spoil. Whats illuminated can find healing and transformation. What Satan wishes to keep hidden, Jesus prefers to bring into the light to provide wholeness and redemption.

Consider this excerpt from Finding Joy in the Journey:

“The Lord meets us in whatever darkness is causing our shame. Regardless of the ugliness of the sin, He knows it all and chooses to love us just the shame. Christ casts out the darkness of our past just as the warm glow of a light overtakes the darkness of a closet.

 Because we have Christ in us and His light overtakes the darkness of our past, He will use our mistakes as part of our testimony to share His love with others. We may consider ourselves tainted goods, but Jesus has redeemed our sins, clothed us in righteousness, and prepared us for a life of service to Him. If He can use someone like me, He can certainly use you! The Lord will cause light to shine out of the darkness through Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6) and will begin to use us to share the freedom that we find in His redeeming love.”

By following the example of Jesus and by walking in His strength and purpose, we can shine for Him through our shame. To shine for Christ doesn’t mean that we beautify and pretty ourselves. It means we prepare our hearts, minds, and souls by focusing intently on what He did for us and the example of His life. The goodness and mercy of our Savior become such a meaningful gift to us that we walk in remembrance and gratitude moment by moment. Our gratitude and love for Him literally begin to radiate from within us.  

This season, as we celebrate the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, may we also remember the shame that He endured. May we meditate on the price He paid to set us free from our own shame. Then, may we walk in the freedom that He provides to shine for His glory.


Come, continue the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or, you may leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you! (And shares are nice, too by the way ;).

Cathy McIntosh is the author of Finding Joy in the Journey: Savoring the Fruit of the Spirit. God’s Word makes it clear that He provides the gift of joy to each of His children. Struggles that are common to many women - such as fear, worry, shame, trials, and confusion - cannot steal our foundational, divinely given joy.
Click here to purchase the book.

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