Little kids love to taunt and embarass those who've done wrong. It's even better when the taunts have a catchy little rhyme. "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" "U-G-L-Y, you ain't got not alibi!" And if you loved "The Goonies" movie as a kid, "Shame, shame, I know your name!" I remember that one well and can hear that kid calling it out in his sing-songy voice.
That's what the devil does as soon as we realize what we've done wrong. The taunting and the calling out comes except most of the time no one else hears it but us. It's a whisper in our ear. It's a faint reminder that torments us over and over. "You don't deserve to be a leader." "How can you live with yourself?" "You're nothing but a hypocrite." "If anyone knew about you, they'd never love you." If we are not careful, that shaming pushes us back into a corner and we hide in the dark.
When someone confesses to us, we must be careful to honor the bravery of the confession and receive it well or else we could very well push the offender further into the very sin they committed. We must rely on Jesus to cover our emotions and reactions so that we don't create an environment of shame. James 5:6 says, "Confess your sins to one another so that you may be healed." The goal of confession is not justice, the goal of confession is healing. Great care must be given when confessions finally come even when we don't feel like offering care. This is not to say we let an offender get away with things or not bare any consequence...the Lord also says, whom He loves, He chastises. Consequences are loving and are also meant to bring about healing.
How do we deal with shame? Like everything else, we must look through the lens of God's word to untangle those webs we weave. First of all, Romans 3:23 says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Isaiah 64:6 says that even when trying our best, all we have to offer is filthy rags. No one escapes the mess of humanness. We all mess up and this is a starting point when it comes to dealing with our sins. When we realize we share this condition with everyone on the planet, we can begin to pull ourselves up and do something about it. We can consider confession and owning up to our wrong doings.
After realizing we're not alone, we must focus on the one who seeks to heal us from our condition. Romans 6: 5-8 tells us that once we accept Jesus, we essentially die with Him and become new. We are no longer a slave to the mess. The old self dies and a God makes us a new creation. As I wrote the other day, this is a process and God like the potter builds us and remakes us. We rise and fall over and over.
With conviction and counsel from God's word we then confess our sins. We put our hat in our hands and seek forgiveness. We accept the consequences - whatever they may be. Sometimes we break relationships, sometimes we make financial restitution and sometimes there's nothing we can do but wait for God to heal and repair. It's painful and humbling to own up to wrong doing but it's the only way to grow and heal. God can't bring about the tiny, green shoots of new growth without pruning back what is old and dead. (John 15)
That old enemy still hisses and whispers. He points and taunts and recites the familiar rhymes. Shame, shame. It takes courage and stamina in God's word to remain in truth and not cave in to shame. What the enemy meant for evil, God will use for good if we bring things into the light. God is a god of restoration - He restores the years that the sin and shame has eaten away. With this knowledge, we can boldly acknowledge, confess and seek forgiveness and walk past the pointing finger of our enemy.