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September 27, 2009

Week 4: Live Free of Shame

Here are some questions that need answering about a topic that is seldom discussed.


I'll say it from the beginning: this is a week when I'll need a lot of help from all of you, our faithful readers. That's because I'm not very confident about the topic of shame. I have experienced shame, of course, and talked through those experiences with others. But I get the impression that I don't experience shame as often as I should. And although I understand that there is healthy shame and unhealthy shame, I don't really understand the difference between the two.

So please help!

Teaching Points
I think the second and third teaching points are a great place to camp as a group and enjoy some quality discussion. It would be great just to talk openly about questions like:

-- What causes shame?
-- Where is the line between healthy shame and unhealthy shame?
-- What do we do if we are experiencing healthy shame? Unhealthy shame?

That's a discussion where I feel like I could learn a lot. That's also a great opportunity for Teachable Moments—times when the Holy Spirit moves in your group in a way that brings people to respond, learn, grow, and change.

Questions, Questions
Speaking of questions, there are some things I've wondered about shame that I would love your collective input on. For example, what is the difference between guilt and shame? Is one more positive or negative than the other?

One more question: in your experience, is shame a bigger issue for women than for men? Do women experience shame more often, or do men have an easier time ignoring or shaking off feelings of shame? I would genuinely love to hear what everyone thinks about that one.

posted by Sam O'Neal on September 27, 2009 3:44 PM

Related Tags: Dot Com(unity), Shame


I'm not sure I have answers to all the questions asked here, but I do have some thoughts. The first thing I think of when it comes to shame is Adam and Eve. Before the Fall, they "were both naked, and they felt no shame" (Gen. 2:25), but after the Fall, they were hiding from God (3:8-10). Shame is not our natural or intended state. In Psalm 25, David contrasts trust in God to shame. In verse 3, he says, "no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame."

This morning in my quiet time, I was studying Romans 3. Great chapter! Here's a few notes I wrote in my journal, which I think ties in to the questions about the place of "shame":

3:23: I fall short of God's standard. So I stand guilty in His presence. I come to Him with empty hands. I have no more excuses, no arguments, no defense, no denials ... no pride. I stand before my Creator naked and unashamed. I cannot hide from him, and I choose not to try to hide from him any longer. I am at the mercy of the Court. And because of His great mercy and love (Ephesians 2:4), He now declares me not guilty through the work of Christ on the cross. God's justice is satisfied because Jesus paid the penalty for my sin. This is the most awesome, incredible concept in the world. This is grace. God's riches at Christ's expense. This is the attitude of a real Christ follower.

3:24: The Good News: Because of God's gracious kindness (grace) we're declared "not guilty" through Jesus only. He has taken away our sins! "Not guilty" means the records of my wrongdoings have been officially wiped clean. No more accusations that really count. We're set free to live free and holy lives. But we must be careful not to return to the bondage of our sins.

To me, this all means "no shame"!

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