Webster's dictionary defines "shame" as:
Pronunciation: \ˈshām\ Function: noun
1 a : a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety
I was blessed to have a very carefree and enjoyable childhood. I have a younger brother Matt whom I have shared a ton of awesome memories. We fought just like brothers normally do...but nothing too serious. I've said some stupid things and done some stupid things, but I don't remember ever doing anything where I truly felt shame...well, that is until I stole.
I've always loved cars...it started with Hot Wheels. never thought I needed any hotwheels until my neighbor came over one day and I saw that he had an Indy Car. My brother and I had a ton of them...plenty more than we could ever use or needed...but we didn't have an Indy Car. I had to have it, and instead of just asking my friend if I could have it, borrow it, or even better, maybe ask him to trade for it...for some reason I decided to just take it. When we started cleaning up, I buried it in with all of ours, and he had a bunch and never missed it when he packed up his cars. He left, and I dug out my brand new Indy Car. I had gotten away with it! Wow...that was easy! I thought the story was done and I could go on with my now Indy Car Hot Wheels filled life.
When dad came home, he saw the Indy Car, and being a racing fan, he excitedly asked where I had gotten the car. Uh oh...hadn't thought this part of the theft through...
"Where did I get it...ummmmmmm...uhhhhhh...(nervous pace...clear throat)...ugh...ummmmmmmmmm...at...uhhhhhhh...K-Mart...I got it at K-mart!" Nothing like stealing and then covering it up with a lie or two...surefire formula for success!
Dad turned to mom and, having noticed how weird I was acting (I'm a terrible liar...I guess that's a good thing), asked her a question, "Did you guys go to K-mart today?" Uh-oh...I hadn't thought this part of the thievery out either. I'm not a very good thief either.
Mom looked at me, then back at dad, and with one simple word she destroyed my entire, incredibly well thought out plan. "Nope!"
My parents don't really approve of stealing, or...as it turns out...lying. I was made to return the vehicle to my neighbor friend (what a great friend I was), and then returned home for my punishment (like facing my neighbor and apologizing wasn't enough...c'mon dad). Turns out...it wasn't enough.
After my punishment was over, I was sore, but also very ashamed. It was a new emotion I hadn't experienced much, if ever, before. When I saw my parents, their now lack of trust in me caused me to feel an uneasiness. I couldn't look at my neighbor...I was too embarrassed. Shame caused me to close myself off to a lot of people around me...it caused me not to act.
Shame is very dangerous to Christians. It's a weapon that Satan uses immediately after we fall prey to sin...in fact, I believe prolonged shame could be considered a sin. How many opportunities to serve the Kingdom of God do we pass on because we are too ashamed of our past or even our present? Satan wants us to hold onto our guilt and shame is his tool of choice. When we hold onto our past, we deny the love and forgiveness that Christ has waiting for us and we sacrifice the opportunities to serve His Kingdom that He has waiting for us.
Check out 2 Cor. 5:17-21: 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Christ's sacrifice has given us all hope...it's up to us to decide to accept Him and be reconciled to God for our sin or to hang on to our guilt and shame and miss out on the life He has waiting for us. Christ calls us to action (ambassadors), not shame.
Don't miss out on the opportunities He has waiting for you. Represent Him. Stay strong.