Loved Through it All

Shame is not of God.

This post is all about shame—what it is, where it’s from, and what we do with it. But I want to start off with that huge fact. Shame is not, nor will it ever be, from God.

Now that we’ve established that, what is shame? A quick Google search yields a variety of definitions, but I think as it pertains to faith, the best definition of shame is this: “a loss of respect or esteem; dishonor.” When we talk about shame in a religious context, most often we are talking about the feeling that by some action, expression, or feeling we have lost our worthiness. When we experience shame, we begin to feel as if we are not worth loving; that we are not worth forgiving; that we are less valuable as a result.

All of those thoughts are lies. Which brings me back to that first statement: shame is not of God. Whenever we feel shame, it is not of God. God does not shame us into submission, and He will never employ a strategy of condemnation to get us to repent. Shame and condemnation do not lead to the fruits of the Spirit; instead, it leads to more sin and more shame. God is good, and our Good God cannot produce evil things.

Wherever you are and whatever you might have done, God’s heart for you is not to feel unworthy or unloved. God will convict you—He will call to higher things—but conviction does not take away your worth; it is simply the Holy Spirit nudging you to more.

In Psalm 139, David proclaims,
“Where can I run from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence? 
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there…
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me 
and the light become night around me,’ 
even the darkness will not be dark to you; 
the night will shine like the day, 
for darkness is as light to you.”

God is always near to you. When we make mistakes, He does not flee. He isn’t afraid of our present situation, our past screw-ups, or our uncertain future. He knows us, and He loves us. Through it all.

In the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), Jesus describes God the Father’s love for His children (AKA us). Even though the prodigal had dishonored his father and his family, taken his inheritance and used it for drugs, prostitutes, gambling, and the like, when the son came back home to his dad the father did not come out and slap him. The father did not condemn him. The father did not make him work his way back up to grace; instead, the father ran to embrace the son. He ran and placed a ring on his finger. He celebrated the son’s repentance (which, by the way, means to sincerely regret an action—change our mind and do another thing), threw a huge party, and broke out the best of the best for his returned son.
God loves you through it all. Though we actually deserved a place of pain for our consistent rebellions, God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. I think Paul puts it in really profound terms when he says in Romans 5:8: “…God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We don’t deserve grace or forgiveness, but we have it. Denying that for ourselves or anyone else is denying the power, sovereignty, and love of God.

So if you’re experiencing shame, if you feel condemned, if you feel like you are so far away from God that you could never come back, if you feel worthless or useless or broken, God is near. He has always been and always will be near to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18). Simply turn towards Him, and He is there. He will wipe away your guilt and shame and lead you into peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7), unfathomable joy (1 Peter 1:8-9), and lift you up to the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).

Shame is not of God, and it is not the end of your story. Remember that.

Author | Alex Hinton
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