My pastor, Rick Warren, recently wrote a great article about how Our Churches Should Be No Shame Zones. I’ve been surprised at the pushback online. Many, many people take issue with the title alone, without even reading the article, because of an ingrained belief that shame is God’s chosen motivator to make us repent and turn to him.
But the Bible is clear in Romans 2:4 that “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.”
Yes, repentance certainly involves repentance and contrition, but shame as we know it is a de-motivator. It stops our progress. It locks people up in patterns of self-loathing and self-destructiveness. Shame often keeps us from God. Thankfully, God gives us his Word to guide us through the process of moving beyond shame and regret in a holy, healthy way.
King David is well-known for two stories: his defeat of Goliath, and his sin with Bathsheba. What a conflicting legacy, right? But both stories really illustrate the grace of God at work in his life. David defeated the giant by the miraculous power and grace of God. And one year after David committed adultery with Bathsheba, conspired to have her husband killed, and covered it all up, David was confronted by the prophet Nathan, which led him to repentance.
David wrote several psalms about his experience of God’s undeserved forgiveness and kindness. One of those is Psalm 32, which gives us a great roadmap for moving beyond our own shame and regret.
This is the first of a seven-day, seven-part journey through Psalm 32, and the first step is to recognize the goodness of God.
Your view of God will determine whether you move toward him or away from him when you experience guilt and shame. If you believe that God is mad at you, doesn’t like you, and is bent on your destruction, you’ll run from him. But if you believe what David believed, you’ll run into his arms:
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
~ Psalm 32:1-2 NIV
Have you felt the weight of the curse of sin? I believe we all have at one time or another. The bigger question is, do you believe that there is blessing in the experience of forgiveness?
When you experience shame over sin, you need to believe that God loves you, wants to forgive you, and wants to heal and restore your soul.
And if you experience shame that was spoken into you by the words or actions of others, by no choice of your own, you need to know that God understands. He cares. He looks out for your best interests.
When you’ve sinned, God is good. And when you confess, he is faithful to bless you with forgiveness. If you’re willing to take him at his Word and believe in his goodness, simply bring your shame to God and he’ll bless you for doing so.
Move on to Step 2: Release Your Heart