DEFINITION: Shame is a negative emotion that combines feelings of unworthiness, rejection, embarrassment, and disgrace. Biblically, shame results from a recognition of one’s guilt because of sin.
FACTS ABOUT SHAME:
Shame is a result of sin. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. One of the first emotions they experienced after they sinned was shame, as they made fig leaves in an attempt to cover their nakedness and they tried to hide from the presence of God.
There is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt means “debt” and is essentially an emotion resulting from transgression of an accepted standard of God’ Word by a definite, voluntary act. It is concerned with doing or lack of doing, sins of commission or omission–failing to do something right or doing something you know to be wrong. Common sources of guilt include acts of dishonesty, lying, stealing, selfishness, cheating, infidelity, and hurting others. Guilt says to your conscience, “You made a mistake. What you did was bad.” Shame, however, means “to cover up and to envelop” and is concerned with being rather than doing. Shame says, “You are no good, you are bad, you are inadequate.” The Apostle Paul illustrates the difference between guilt and shame when he says, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Romans 7:19). That is guilt resulting from doing. Then Paul agonizes, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:2). That is shame speaking.
Shame-based thinking means your thoughts are dominated by feelings of shame. This can lead to feelings of paranoia, repression, and rationalization of your behavior. Shame brings personal condemnation and causes you to blame others in order to make yourself feel better. You may also be plagued by perfectionism to attempt to ease your feelings of shame or become defensive, arrogantly self-righteous, or aggressive with others. Some people with shame issues turn to addictive substances, while others disassociate themselves from friends and family because they do not feel worthy.
The power of shame is manifested in five areas in your life:
Inherited shame results from the basic sin nature which we all receive at birth due to the original transgression of man in the Garden of Eden.
Individual shame results from sins you personally commit.
Incessant shame refers to the continuous cycle of shame manifested from generation to generation. If you do not deal with shame successfully, then you pass it on to your children and they duplicate it by passing it on to the next generation.
Imposed shame is inflicted upon you by others who put you down and tell you that you are stupid or not good enough.
Institutional shame comes through the institutions of society. You may be shamed by society because of the color of your skin, your family background, or the city or nation in which you live.
DEALING WITH SHAME:
Recognize that you do not have to bear your shame. Jesus bore your sin and sickness at the cross so that you no longer need bear them. He also bore your shame. So why are you continuing to bear it? He went to the cross carrying your shame: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:3).
Acknowledge your shame. Shame will be used by Satan to destroy you. Shame will keep you shackled to your past so that you cannot move forward to embrace your destiny. Acknowledge your shameful feelings so you can deal with them.
Act against your shame. Repent of any shame-producing, sinful behavior. Repent of any bitterness or unforgiveness you may harbor against those who caused you shame.
Address your shame. When the voice of accusation says, “Shame on you,” respond by declaring, “No, Jesus bore my shame.”
Silence the enemy when he returns with shameful accusations. Make this declaration: “No…My sin and shame are on Jesus. His righteousness is on me. I reject your accusations in the name of Jesus Christ.”
WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT SHAME:
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. (Psalm 34:4-5)
I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. (Psalm 119:31)
The wise inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame. (Proverbs 3:35)
When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2, NKJV)
For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:7, KJV)
Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.(Isaiah 54:4)
Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,and everlasting joy will be theirs. (Isaiah 61:7)
And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. (Joel 2:26, KJV)
As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame. (Romans 10:11)
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:3).
(For further study on the subject of Shame, see the Harvestime International Network publication entitled “Shattering The Shackles Of Shame” available at http://www.harvestime.org)