“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus,
the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Because of the joy awaiting him,
he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.
Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
Hebrews 12:2, NLT (italics mine)
The theme of shame begins in the story of creation. Genesis 2:25 translated in the New Living Translation (NLT), “Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.” Adam and Eve, totally exposed and naked felt no shame. Before the fall, they were completely at peace with who God created them to be. Living in the joy of their creation together.
But then sin entered the world and shame became a thing. I wrote about this before. And Adam and Eve knew shame, realized their vulnerability and tried to cover it up. With fig leaves … you know the story.
Shame is different from guilt. Guilt is a gift God has given us to make right what we have done wrong. Shame tells me, I am something wrong. It whispers lies to me. In my words, shame told me, I was not good enough. I think Eve started believing the same thing. For years I believed it and like Eve tried to cover it up. My fig leaves did not work either.
I was not good enough to receive an invitation to the special Girl Scout Camp.
I was not good enough to earn a spot on our high school color guard squad.
I was not good enough to pledge a sorority my freshman year of college.
I was not good enough to be asked to speak at the conference.
And on and on the list goes. My shame deepened in direct relationship to lost opportunities.
Do you see what I was doing? I was basing my good-enough-ness on activities; activities that I believed would communicate to you that I was good enough. And because those activities didn’t materialize, I felt rejected and it reinforced my shame.
Jesus also felt the attack of shame. Hebrews 12:2 (above) records that for us. What thoughts do you think the enemy might have been whispering to him as he hung on the cross? Jesus taught about life, and now he was dying.
John 1:4 “In him was life …”
John 6:35 “… I am the bread of life:”
John 17:3 “And this is eternal life … Jesus whom you have sent.”
But Jesus disregarded those shame filled attacks. Other versions translate that word in Hebrews 12:2 as despised the shame, or ignored the shame, or scorned the shame. Jesus did not listen to the shame.
For years I did not know how to ignore the shame that engulfed my life. Until God orchestrated for me to benefit from the wisdom of a Biblical counselor. And maybe for the first time I really heard how much God loved me. Instead of measuring God’s love for me based on activities, I learned that God loved me no matter what! I began to relax into being me.
“God not only loves you very much,
but also has put his hand on you for something special …”
from I Thessalonians 1, The Message
And something else happened — JOY! Like the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, “… I bring you good news of great joy …” Luke 2:10. And as the good news of the gospel permeated me, I too found great joy.
I’m learning the truth of Psalm 16:11, “… in your presence there is fullness of joy;” Quiet time is no longer a task I check off my daily do list. It is enjoying the presence of God.
I’m learning new joy in friendships. John understood this, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” II John 1:12. But like in the reality of John’s day, sometimes paper and ink … or a computer in my day … are a good second best.
I’m learning new joy in affirming who God created you to be. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works …” Ephesians 2:10 (bolding mine). There is great joy in noticing how God created you and sharing my joy with you.
“For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.”
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