Thursday, April 09, 2015

Shame, Guilt, Honor, Glory

We all know that feeling - the one that overwhelms me sometimes when I know I have messed up - it's the feeling of shame. When my mistake affects a whole group - whether it is my team, my class at school, my family, the Body of Christ - I feel even worse. I want to crawl in a hole and not come out! I have not only disgraced myself, I have disgraced others.

Sometimes my self-talk goes beyond "I messed up" to "I am a mess." It takes down a path of thinking "I can't get it right. I give up."


The cross is the remedy for my shame and my guilt. 

MY GUILT comes from knowing that I have done something wrong or bad. 

SHAME comes from feeling that I am a bad person. Bad (sinful) actions require punishment. Christ took that punishment and offered us forgiveness, so that we are not punished.

Shame implies dishonor and humiliation in the public arena. Shame disconnects me from others. Shame excludes me from community. Shame says that I am unlovable and unworthy. The Psalmist cried out to God, Let me not be put to shame, Lord, for I have cried out to you. (Psalm 31:17)

Before they met the serpent, Adam and Eve were in the garden and they did not experience shame. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:25)

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they immediately felt ashamed, guilty, and fearful; they were afraid of God. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked…. ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ (Genesis 3:7,10)

HONOR . . . . 

The remedy for shame is not becoming famous. It is not even being affirmed. It is being incorporated into a community with new, different, and better standards for honor.   Andy Crouch 

Even though shame is becoming more prevalent and more recognized in our culture, we fall short in offering solutions.

A public person can say something that he thinks is private, but it is secretly recorded and broadcast publicly. His career may end over that one incidence because he has been publicly shamed.

An ordinary person can be captured in an embarrassing situation and be humiliated among his peers on social media. A teenager who desperately desires inclusion can be publicly derided and face despised exclusion.

But for many of us, we heap shame on ourselves from our daily failures. As a Christian, I see Christ’s sacrifice as the redemption for my sin but fail to recognize that the cross offers me hope for my shame. 

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us…. But we do not have to feel ashamed, because of our hope who is Christ! (Romans 5:5, 9:33a)

The opposite of Western shame is self-esteem—I feel good about myself,” American missionary Jayson Georges (a pseudonym) “The opposite of Eastern shame is honorothers thinking highly of me.” The Bible was written in the Eastern culture thinking. It’s a community where honor-seeking and “boasting” of all kinds are repudiated; where servants are raised up to sit at the table with those they once served; where even the ultimate dishonor of the cross is transformed into glory, the ultimate participation in honor. The gospel offers adoption—a new status as “sons,” to both men and women, now members of the family of the firstborn Son."

You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15b)

GLORY . . . . 

God created man in His image - bestowing great honor and His glory upon him. When he sinned, he lost the glory of God shining through his life and was separated from God, feeling great shame

Romans describes the descent into depravity. For all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) God offers me a chance to restore His glory in my life. I can reclaim that glory through a relationship with Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are riches of the glory of His inheritance in, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. (Ephesians 1: 18-19b) 

There is nothing that I can do to restore that glory, but it is His Spirit that lives in me. Because I am a part of the family of God, I have an inheritance from Him. 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory,being transformed into His image ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18) 

As I honor and glorify the Lord, I become more like Him. For I consider that the of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18) 

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

How am I . . . . 
  • Experiencing shame right now? Is it because of a past experience? Or a past behavior? Is it because of the actions on another?
  • What do I feel guilty about? Do I feel guilty because of sin? Do I feel guilty because I have not met up to my own standards or those of my peer or professional group?
  • How does Jesus identify with me and bear my guilt and my shame?
  • How did the cross wipe away my guilt?
  • How did the cross restore my honor?
SEE our previous blogs on this topic: