Shame hits us for one of two reasons. We feel shame because of something wrong someone did to us. Or we feel it because of something we did ourselves. Either way, like Adam and Eve, we want to cover it up.
The Prophet Zephaniah writes: “The unjust knows no shame” (Zeph. 3:5). He means they have no awareness or regret over their sin—even though God makes known to them His righteousness every day.
But it’s what God goes on to say in the next couple verses how He did things to draw His people back to Him.
If your shame has smothered your life, you need to hear God’s words of grace.
Hiding Your Shame
When we experience shame over something, we try to hide it through silence, through jokes, or through staying busy. But ironically, silence actually makes your shame worse. It’s like a dark room where fungus grows.
What remains impossible for us to do on our own—that is, to come to God with a clean heart—God does for us.
I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder. . . . In that day you will feel no shame because of all your deeds by which you have rebelled against Me. —Zephaniah 3:9, 11
Again God uses the words: “no shame”—except now they take on a different meaning. Initially they referred to the shameless, but here God speaks to those whom He will purify. Those who will not feel ashamed.
Honesty and the removal of your shame go hand in hand. It’s not enough to remember the pain and talk about it. You need to face the pain.
- But how do you overcome the secrets of your heart, especially when secrets seem essential to protect you from your shame?
- And if you ever did have the honesty to admit your shame, would anyone ever love and accept you?
Facing Shame When We’d Rather Run
God’s Word is the means by which the secrets of a person’s heart are disclosed. But the difference comes when the secrets of the heart are disclosed in an atmosphere of grace and unconditional love (1 Cor. 14:24-25). What happens when you know, that no matter what your heinous past, no matter what incredibly debauched story you have, you will still be loved by God?
The Bible tells us that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). Do you know what shame that verse refers to?
Your shame. My shame.
Since sin is the primary source of our shame, when Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, He took the shame we all should have rightfully had and He took it upon Himself.
Your Shame and Removing What Causes It
No shame comes as a result of God removing what causes shame—sin. God has provided the safe haven of His unconditional love, but He requires each of us to trust in Christ for that forgiveness. That’s why Peter wrote:
For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ —1 Peter 2:6
At Zion, or Jerusalem, Jesus took all your shame on Himself when He died on the cross; it’s no longer yours to hang on to.
What shame have you carried for years?
- Maybe you need to come to Christ, in the context of grace, admit your shameful past to Him, believe that He took your shame when He died on the cross, and receive the grace and unconditional forgiveness. You can clear your guilty conscience.
- Even as Christians, we can continue to run from the sins of our past. We feel emotionally like we’re dragging a bag of concrete. I urge you to stop running, quit hiding, and refuse to bury the truth. Confess it to God.
- If someone has hurt you and you feel shame over what they did, remember that God sees you clean and pure through Jesus Christ—if you have accepted Him. No one can soil what God has cleaned. Your challenge, then, is forgiveness.
Face your pain. Tell it all to Jesus, because the cure for shame is honesty in the context of unconditional love (1 John 1:9).
God promises to forgive you if you’ll ask.