West Texas jackrabbit

Overcoming Shame

Because of shame, we may try to hide ourselves or at least try to hide our shame like the jackrabbit trying to hide itself
in the photo to the right, but also like the jackrabbit which isn't really hidden, we don't really hide our shame.

*** God wants to set us free from shame and embarrassment through Jesus becoming a shame substitute for us..

I. Characteristics of shame:
A. Ezra was too embarrassed to look up to God because of sin.  Ezra the scribe said, "And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,  And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens" (Ezra 9:5-6).

 B. Test for characteristics of shame and embarrassment:
Check each statement with either True [T] or False [F]
Check the left column for True and the right column for False.
1. I often find myself looking at the ground when I talk with other people.
2. I find myself  working really hard to win the approval of others.
3. I hate being in crowds.
4. People tell me that I am too quiet.
5. I don't have any really close friends.
6. I sometimes stutter when I talk.
7. I find it hard to meet new people.
8. I fear that people wouldn't like me if they really knew me.
9. I often feel that people are against me.
10. I feel rejected a lot.
11. I have been treated unfairly and can't seem to get over it.
12. I find myself belittling other people privately.
13. I feel like people often look down upon me.
14. I feel like I am the black sheep of the family.
15. I find myself talking really fast when I am around certain people.
16. I wrestle with anger quite a bit.
18. I have a secret sin addiction.
19. I fear that if I don't live up to God's standards, God won't love me.
20. I avoid eye contact with other people.
21. I have bouts of depression and hopelessness.
22. I find myself blaming others for my problems.
23. I wrestle with hidden guilt.
24. I find it difficult to receive gifts from others.
25. I feel like I am a failure.
26. I have found it difficult to believe that anyone could ever love me.
27. I feel like I am a bad person.
28. I don't like what I see when I look in the mirror.

*** Each statement that you checked as being true for you may be an indicator of shame which still has a foothold in your life.

A. False guilt is often the cause.
Sometime false guilt is heaped upon us by others:  "Naughty, naughty, naughty" or "Bad boy... or ... Bad girl"  or "Shame, shame on you ...."  I still remember my grandmother pointing her forefinger at me and taking the other forefinger and wiping it across the top as she said, "Shame, shame on you."  Some parents try to control their children through the use of shame.

EXAMPLE:  David's older brother tried to shame David. "And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle" (I Samuel 17:28).

EXAMPLE:  Job's three friends, tried to shame Job.  Job's response was, "...miserable comforters are ye all" (Job 16:2).  Later he declared, "How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words" (Job 19:2).

B.  There are embarrassing situations:
1. We are careless and have a car wreck or mess up a project.
2. We lose our job, can't immediately find another one, and have to borrow money.
3. We fail to meet our goal or make a "F" on our report card.  We prefer not to see our parents that day.
4. A young girl is molested by a step father.  The girl is too embarrassed to tell anyone ... even her mother.  She knows what happened to her was wrong, but she feels unclean and embarrassed herself.
5. Sometimes it is a young boy approached by a sodomite man.  Who can he tell?
6. David cut off a piece of Saul's garment while Saul was using the bathroom in a cave. When Saul stepped out of the cave and stood before his men, David also stepped out and lifted up the piece of Saul's garment. "And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept"  (I Samuel 24:16).
C. Sometime people who are different from other people feel ashamed.
1. You may be shorter or taller, larger or smaller than other people.
2. You may have some unusual birth mark.
3. You may have different skin color or complexion.
4. You may have some characteristics often associated with the opposite sex.
5. Your parents may just be odd.
6. You may have been born with your family in poverty.

If you were born with any of these unchangeable features about your life, you should see that God has a very special plan for your life and renounce the shame. "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.  How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee"  (Psalms 139:14-18).  You should also begin to thank God for each member of your body.

D. Sometimes shame comes as a direct result of our sin.
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.  And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.  And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?  And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.  And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat" (Genesis 3:6-13).
1. They must have been clothed with the glory of God.
2. Sin put out the light.
3. Their eyes were opened to sin, guilt, and shame.
4. They saw that they were naked.  (Hospitals are in that they have you to strip and put an mini-skirt on with opening in the back).
5. They sewed fig leaves and tried to cover their shame.
6. They were afraid and hid themselves.
7. Their focus of attention was upon their shame and not the sin that caused the shame.
8. However, even though they sinned God sought them out.
9. When God confronted them with the truth, they looked for someone else to blame. The man blamed the woman the woman blamed the serpent.
III. The problems with SHAME.
The main problem with SHAME is that is like a whirlpool or a maelstrom with a vortex that pulls one DOWN and down and down. It is similar to the idea of the black holes in space that draws anything near them into them, even light.  With the black holes in space there is no known escape, but with Jesus one can overcome the downward pull of shame.
    People may respond several ways to shame. 1. Some may withdraw into themselves.  Rejected people also often reject others. This only makes them feel lonely and more ashamed. 2. Some may attempt to cover the shame by becoming the clown of the party. However, sooner or later the party comes to a close, then there is depression, loneliness, and more shame. 3. Some try to combat shame by putting others down so that they feel better about themselves. Often shamed people try to shame others. However, this only brings about guilt and more shame. 4. Some may try to dull the pain with drugs, sex, eating addictions, or alcohol.  The problem with these is that the high is only temporal. The more you use, the more that you need to use.  5.  Some seek to cover their shame with status or material possessions. Again, the problem is that no matter how high one climbs the latter of success there is always one more higher position. Furthermore, the more possessions you have, the more that you feel that you need to have.  6. Some may try to overcome the shame through performing more or better. One of two things generally happen here. The bar for performance level is usually raised just a little higher. They are never fully accepted. The other thing is that they will sooner of later fail by their own efforts to perform or please others. In either case, they are drawn down by even more the failure. 7. Some may turn to God to find answers for shame.
IV. God's provision in the Old Testament.
A.  When Adam and Eve sinned and felt shame that tried to cover themselves with leaves, but God provided a better covering.  "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them"  (Genesis 3:21).  God shed the blood of the animals to provide a covering for their shame.  This was further illustrated in the "atonement" under the law given to Moses.  "Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:  And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness" (Leviticus 16:15-16).  The atonement was a temporal covering for sin and shame.

B. "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins" (Isaiah 40:1-2). First, it would be unthinkable that God would be unjust and punish the people twice that which they deserved.  In the time that this passage was written, there was a custom where if someone got so far in debt that he couldn't out on his own, he could post a list of his indebtedness on a piece of parchment and attach that to the door post of his house.  If a rich man came alone and read the list of debts and was willing to pay all the individual's debts and desired to have the individual to become his slave, he would the remove the peg holding the parchment, give the parchment the double by folding it over and reattaching the parchment.  After the parchment was reattached, the list of debts was no longer visible.  This is a picture what Jesus did.  We have had a sin list, but Jesus nailed that list to the cross paying the full price for the sin that has brought shame in our lives.  "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Colossians 2:14).

C. "For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them" (Isaiah 61:7).  Note: It is more than a covering, it is a promise that God will take away the shame and confusion and replace it with joy everlasting.

V. Jesus became the OBJECT of our shame.
A. "SHAME" was put on Jesus.  "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting" (Isaiah 50:6).  This is a prophecy concerning Jesus.

B. Jesus suffered the shame of rejection. "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"  (Matthew 27:46). "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (Isaiah 53:4).

C. He suffered the shame of our sins.

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (I Peter 3:18).

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him"  (II Corinthians 5:21).

D. He became the "rock of offense" ... but we can believe and not be ashamed.  "As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed" (Romans 9:33).


E. Jesus was sent to heal our hurts.   "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18).

F. Jesus has come to heal our hurts and take away our shame.   "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall" (Malachi 4:2).  I grew up on a farm where we, at times, raised cattle; therefore, this passage gives me a unique picture.  If a young calf is let out of the stall (pen), he may come out bucking, jumping up and down, and spinning around. He doesn't care who is watching.  He isn't a bit ashamed of his behavior.  He is just free to enjoy life! God also wants to set you free from shame that you can also enjoy life!

G. God wants to restore what guilt and shame has taken away. God wants to free us from shame. It is interesting that this is connected to the outpouring of the HOLY SPIRIT.  "And I will restore to you .... and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.  And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:25-28).

VI. A simple outline to receive healing from shame.
A. Acknowledge to God that you are wresting with shame.
B. Purpose by the grace of God to forgive anyone who has offended you and brought shame into your life.
C. Put the judgment of any now living offender in God's hands and ask God also to forgive the offender.
D. Acknowledge any unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, and resentment that you have held toward the offender and ask God to forgive  and cleanse you from your shame.
E. Acknowledge any other sin on your part that has brought shame into your life and ask for God's forgiveness.
F. Take authority over the enemy (guilt, fear, shame, depression and any spirits connected to these) and command that they leave in the name of Jesus.
G. Ask the Holy Spirit if you are free from the bondage of shame.  If you are not free the Holy Spirit will reveal why you are not.
H. If you are free, then understand that Jesus became a shame substitute for you and ask God to heal your wounds from shame.
VII. Here are some practical exercises in overcoming shame. We are to lift up our heads, souls, hearts, hands, ourselves, eyes, prayers, fellow man, and our voices. (We are to take our eyes and minds off ourselves and look upon the Lord and see the needs of others.)
A. Lift our heads:
"Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah"  (Psalms 24:7-10).

Note: We should get our eyes off ourselves and put them on the King.

"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).

Note: We should get our eyes off ourselves and see our Redeemer.

B. Lift up our souls:
"Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.   O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.  Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause" (Psalms 25:1-3).

Note: We need to place our souls (mind, will, and emotions) into God's hands.

C. Lift up our hearts:
"Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens" (Lamentations 3:41).

Note: We need to place our entire being into God's hands.

D. Lift up our hands:
"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees" (Hebrews 12:12).

Note: The time for grief is to end and we are to get up and reach out to receive God's grace to be obedient.

E. Lift up ourselves or stand:
"Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise" (Nehemiah 9:5).

"Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.  Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD" (Psalm 134:1-2).

Note: We are to stand in worshipping the Lord.

"But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth" (Luke 6:8).

Note: We are to stand in faith and receive our healing.

F. Lift up our eyes:
"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:35).

Note: Again we are to take our eyes off ourselves and shame AND look to see others who are lost and without a saviour.

G . Lift up our prayers:
"It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left" (Isaiah 37:4).

Note: It is difficult to wallow in shame when we are praying for others in need.

H. Lift up our fellow man:
"For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up" (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Note: When we reach out and help lift up others in need we take our minds off our own failures.

I. Lift up our voice and praise.
"They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea" (Isaiah 24:14).

Note: Praising God is an excellent way to overcome shame!

VIII. How do we help others to overcome shame.
A. Jesus is our example.
1. The religious leaders of the day brought a woman who was caught in adultery to Jesus. "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,  They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act"  (John 8:3-4).  Instead of condemning her, Jesus defended her from her religious critics. "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her"  (John 8:7).  Jesus also told her that he did not condemn her.  "When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more"  (John 8:10-11).

2. Again, the religious leaders condemned Jesus for association with a prostitute.  "And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.   Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner" (Luke 7:37-39).  However, Jesus received her and loved her.  He defended her. "And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.  My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little" (Luke 7:44-47).  Jesus also forgave her.  "And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven"  (Luke 7:44-48).

3. Jesus went out of his way to show love to another woman.  She was a Samaritan.   "And he must needs go through Samaria"  (John 4:4).  The Jewish people avoided going through Samaria for any reason.  The Samaritans were considered to be unfaithful to their race by marrying into other nationalities. Furthermore, women were looked down upon.  Jesus stopped at the well of Jacob during the middle of the day to rest.   Jesus broke all the culture moors of the day by speaking to the woman who came to the well to draw water at that time to avoid the criticism of the good women of the city.  "There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink"  (John 4:7).  The woman was shocked that Jesus, a Jew, spoke to her.  However, Jesus turns the conversation to spiritual things.  He discerned that she had a thirst that had not been filled in her life. "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water" (John 4:10).  Jesus didn't condemn her but spoke tha truth in love revealing what her life was about.  "Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.  The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:  For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly"  (John 4:16-18).  In that day, only a man could divorce his wife. This woman had been rejected and divorced by five different men. She had been shamed by five men. Now, she is involved in a shameful relationship.  She needed someone to reach out to her, accept her, and love her without adding more shame to her life. Jesus did just that.  She needed the Living Water, Jesus, to fill what no husband could fill, especially one who would just use her and divorce her.

B. Therefore we should ...
1. We should prayerfully go out of our way to reach out to those who are in the bondage of shame.
"Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage"  (Matthew 22:9).
2. We should make an effort to speak to them first.
"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother"  (Proverbs 18:24).
3. We should accept them where they are without judgmentalism or condemnation.
"Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God"  (Romans 15:7).
4. We should love them with the love of the Lord.
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren"  (I John 3:16).

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another"  (I John 4:11).

"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins"  (I Peter 4:8).

5. We should forgive them and lead them to Jesus who is able to set them free from shame, give them life, and fill their thirst for love.
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

 "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God"  (Isaiah 40:1).

IX. Some words of encouragement.
A. God's promise.
"Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more"  (Isaiah 54:4).
B. Paul's declaration.
"According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death"  (Philippians 1:20).