Tag Archives: Shame

Mrs. Owens and Satan… and Jesus

You couldn’t say the dog ate it because you didn’t have a dog.  Mrs. Owens, your third grade teacher, was scowling down, asking why you didn’t have your homework done.  When you couldn’t provide a sufficient excuse, her imperious expression changed to one designed to produce in you extreme shame and self-loathing.  She had practiced this face in the mirror and looked down as though you were something she had accidentally stepped in.

But here’s the question: Did her “shame on you act” work?  Did she inspire you do achieve greatness in the third grade?  Not likely.  That’s because shame or feeling guilty actually inhibits you and makes you less likely to do better.  Research on addiction has found that when people feel shame about their addictive behavior, they are more likely to repeat.  More likely!


Of course, there is a better way.  We can acknowledge we have messed up and, without wallowing in shame, figure out how to do better.  That’s what this line from the Bible means:

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

To paraphrase, when we mess up, God would have us change our thinking (that’s what “repent” means), recognize we did wrong, turn around and make a better choice.  That’s what “godly sorrow” looks like.  “Worldly sorrow,” third grade guilt, just makes us feel crummy and stuck.

Satan’s name means “accuser.”  He tempts us into doing wrong things and then turns on us, accusing us and making us feel shame. He knows in that condition we will be stuck.  Contrast that with the work of Jesus:  He took our shame and guilt to the cross, and encourages us to enjoy the freedom of changing how we think.  He says, “Go, and sin no more.”

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (Romans 8:1)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  (Galatians 5:1)


Golden Delicious

Apple trees don’t struggle to figure out who they are and what they should do.  Perhaps you shouldn’t, either.  Apple trees produce apples; they bear fruit.  Apples emerge because the sap of life flows through the tree.  I don’t know how it happens, simply that it does.

We do well to remember that when we deal with Bible passages about bearing fruit, such as this one: (We’ve lingered over this part of Colossians (see last few posts) in which Paul prays for God to fill his friends with spiritual wisdom…)

“… so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work…” –  (Colossians 1:10a)

If you’re not careful, a passage like that can fill you with insecurity:  “Am I doing enough?  Am I pleasing God?  Am I doing good work?  Am I worthy?”  Knock it off!  The new life of Christ does not shake a bony, accusing finger in our faces!  Remember the apple trees. 

Jesus gives us new life, the life of His Spirit, to live in us as we live in Him.  In that state, He says, we will bear much fruit. 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  –  (John 15:5)

What’s that fruit going to look like?  What sort of “every good work” am I meant to do?  You will see.  Your fruit might look like apples.  Mine might taste like grapes.  But don’t worry: once we put our faith fully in Jesus, God fills us with His Spirit, His life in us produces fruit, and He is pleased.

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” – (Philippians 2:13)

Greeting Jesus

The monk hammers on the old wooden door, waking the abbot.  Blustering and stammering, he says, “There’s a man downstairs who says he is Jesus and has returned!  What should we do?”   “Look busy!”

Old joke, but it raises a good question.  If Jesus returned and came up to you, what would your reaction be?  If you knew that you were face to face with the Son of Almighty God, the Savior, what would you feel?  Fear?  Regret?  Shame?  Embarrassment?  Any of those strike a chord?  Quite probably so.  But what if you could be sure it was appropriate to run to meet Him with complete confidence and joy, without a trace of sheepishness or shame?  Turns out, that is what is intended for us, who have placed our trust in Jesus:

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.  (1 John 2:28)

You have seen the videos: a child is in school, going through her daily activities, when suddenly Dad appears, home from his service in Afghanistan.  How does she respond?  She runs to him, embraces him with joyful tears.  That’s the idea for our response when Jesus returns!

But how?  How can that be possible?  I mean, … the Son of God…?  John shows us how.  First, our relationship to Jesus is that of a “dear child.”  By faith in Christ, we have been given the right to become a child of God.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God... (John 1:12)

[Jesus said,] “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Mark 10:15)

As a child of God, when you see “Papa,” run to Him!  He will be so glad to see you coming.

Secondly, John says “continue in Him.”   The word translated “continue” is the same word previously translated “remain.”  It means to make your permanent home in Him.  Abide in Him.  There’s more on this word in “Stay Home.”  You make your home in Jesus and He will make His home in you.  When you see Him coming toward you, it will be like coming home!

Chew on that…   The more you do, the more you will taste of its deep truths.  You are meant to sing this song as your own: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come!”