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Archive for November 19th, 2019

I have been pondering shame for a number of months. The word shame has become a derogatory word, whereas, in the past, it was a more widely acceptable one.

Truthfully, most words that evoke a negative feelings are more unacceptable within society today … for none of us wants to feel bad, feel guilt, or feel that we are being judged negatively.

I have been pondering whether shame is an intended part of the Bible’s larger narrative … after all we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Then I read Nehemiah 8. Here we read about Ezra, the religious leader, speaking to the community of men, women and children from dawn to noon at the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles when the Jews remember wandering in the desert after their exodus from Egypt.

Ezra was reading the Law to the people and it says that they understood what was being read. They were cognizant of the Laws that they had broken … their eyes were opened to their sins and they were sad, weeping and sorrow-filled.

As I read that I understood that what they might be feeling was shame. They knew that they had fallen short, they knew that they are been disobedient, and they hung their heads … in shame. Their reactions were pure, human reactions … the shame they felt was innate, natural.

But …

Their tears and mourning were the indicators that they knew their sin and they regretted it. This is the first step in receiving the promise of redemption.

Then Ezra, Nehemiah and the others who were instructing the people told them:

“This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” (8:9)

They were told to go and feast, to eat great foods and drink great drinks. To invite others, who had nothing, so that all could share in the celebration that is available to all. They were led to celebrate, because their shame could be erased.

And so they did. They celebrated “with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” (v. 12)

This is the difference that acknowledging our sins can make. When our eyes and ears are opened to the sin in our hearts, that knowledge is not for the purpose of shaming us, but to open the door to the hope that can erase our sins.

Christ is the antidote to shame … Hallelujah!

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

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