Laying Down Shame from Unpopularity

 

Shame RX: The acceptance of God is our refuge when we feel shame from the scorn of man.

John 12:43 (ESV)

“For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”

I have a confession to make. As much as I could care less about popularity, it is hard when you are in the presence of others who have been tainted by gossip they heard about you. You can feel the disdain, and this, sometimes from Christians.

So then, unpopularity is a shaming of sorts. That place where you feel minimized, judged, shunned and sometimes excluded simply because you are not liked.

Well, we all know it is more simple than that. It is a spiritual matter.

People don’t pause to reflect or consider why they feel a certain way about another person. Someone may have influenced them with a negative viewpoint about another individual but they don’t recognize that the person they are despising is so very loved by God and unconditionally forgiven. And while we are on the subject of forgiveness, if someone had done something wrong, ought we not to forgive and accept them as we have been forgiven and accepted?

So while man goes around seeking to defame one another, the Lover of our souls esteems us.

The acceptance of God is our refuge when we feel shame from the scorn of man.

Lack of popularity with man might be the very thing that gives us favor with God. Instead of being distracted by seeking favor with man, we see our real need—to seek God and His forgiveness.

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Thoughtful Thursday: The Strong Woman

Photo Credits: a-wayinthewilderness.blogspot.com

Photo Credits: a-wayinthewilderness.blogspot.com

Proverbs 31:25-31

25 “She is clothed with strength and honor, and she can laugh at the time to come.  26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.  27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.  28 Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done valiantly, but you surpass them all!” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. 31 Give her credit for what she has accomplished, and let her works praise her in the city gates.” 

Everywhere we turn today – the media, our culture – is spitting out (seemed an appropriate term to use) images of what is deemed beautiful in a woman.  Discipling a throng of wannabe stars, girls flock to the perspective endorsed and propogated by our world as if it brings life – as if it were true that their worth was tied to their outside appearance or beauty.

The temporary pleasure brought about by the pursuit of praise from man lingers momentarily only to give birth to shame. Visible in the teen girls who dare to flaunt and show what they consider to be their charms, or by grown women who still have not seen their true worth, sadly their fashion exposes their nakedness instead.  True beauty is long forgotten by a culture that does not fear God, nor have time to in the flurry of being relevant to whomever the “powers that be” are.

But not every knee has bowed.  Women indeed have a position of significance and a place in this culture that is one of the most profound and impactful positions of all.  The hand that rocks the cradle, that dares to invest her life’s work in the next generation in the fear of the LORD – this is the hand of strength.  Serving her family in seemingly pointless tasks, she is laying a foundation of righteousness in a lost world.

Not concerned with being “cool” or following the latest fad, the wise woman invests her life in God’s calling.  A student of the Word, her first clothing of the day that she prizes more than trying to look “hot” in some new style is delighting in God’s Word.  This relationship with the LORD guides her in every aspect of her life and she is not shaken when the storm comes.

Young women, you are the future.  Don’t allow yourself to be molded by a surface view of who you really are in Christ.  You are a woman of substance.  You are not defined by man’s praise or the lack of it.  Your beauty lies in Christ alone.

Older women, don’t let another moment pass you by without utilizing the influence God has given for the glory of God in those around you.   Don’t allow fear to hold you back from being what you were destined and called to be – a handmaiden of the LORD – placed exactly where He has you, to nurture those around You with His Word.

This woman of virtue defined in Proverbs is a collective description that gives us hope.  This strength from on high is available to all who will be still to seek the Giver of everything we need to be godly women.

We were not meant to be subjects kept for the pleasure of men.  Wise, godly men need a godly counterpart to walk beside them, not beneath them.  We were meant to provide instruction and guidance and should not allow culture or society to displace us in this regard.  Our household depends upon it, and our faithfulness in regard to seeking God and influencing our household with His hope and love has an eternal impact that no one can ever take away.

Lord, thank You for the calling You have given every daughter of Yours.  You delight in us and made us for Your glory. Help us to yield to Your will and to walk in purity, radiating Christ to this desperate world around us.

Worshipful Wednesday: The Blame Shame Game

Genesis 16:3-6, 13

16:3 So after Abram had lived in Canaan for ten years, Sarai, Abram’s wife, gave Hagar, her Egyptian servant, to her husband to be his wife. 4 He had sexual relations with Hagar,and she became pregnant.  Once Hagar realized she was pregnant, she despised Sarai5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You have brought this wrong on me!  I allowed my servant to have sexual relations with you, but when she realized that she was pregnant, she despised me.  May the Lord judge between you and me! 6 Abram said to Sarai, “Since your servant is under your authoritydo to her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai treated Hagar harshly, so she ran away from Sarai. 13 So Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are the God who sees me,” for she said,“Here I have seen one who sees me!

Genesis 17:1

17:1 When Abram was 99 years oldthe Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the sovereign GodWalk before me and be blameless.

Blame is a funny thing.  We somehow think blaming others will vindicate us, all the while inwardly it is an inner child trying to avoid the shame that is welling up inside.  We want the problem to be someone else’s, because we try to convince ourselves that we don’t have problems, or “issues” as they are called today.  Blaming does not achieve the goal of easing our consciences – instead, it serves to create even more baggage to sort through.

Sarai was a bold woman.  Many regard her as submissive, and she was, but in this moment she felt shame that she could not bear a child for her husband.  That shame motivated her to manipulate to achieve God’s promise and bypass the process of God’s blessing.  God said it, she would see it done!

The problem is, she did not go about it God’s way.  Waiting can be painful, especially when we have something to look forward to.  An uncomfortable station in life might motivate us to try to escape and maybe dull the pain.  Or maybe blame others around us that we are not where we should be.  Looking to the future too much, though, can steal our joy in the present.

Maybe we are on the receiving end of blame.  Not fun at all.  I am encouraged when I see how God treated Hagar, the maidservant.  A slave woman used to birth a son for another woman, then blamed for it.  And God saw her.  God sees when we are mistreated and He also sees when we use people for our own glory or desires.  When others manipulate us, in His sovereignty He will take all things, good and bad, and use them for His purposes.  Amazing God.

Whichever end you are on in the blame/shame game, there is hope.  If you are excusing your shortcomings and placing them on someone else, acknowledge that guilt and lay it at His feet.  If you are the one accused by others, lay it down at His feet.  We are all guilty, all desperate before our God Who took all of our blame.  We are all messed up – even the heroes of the faith made mistakes.

We have hope in a God Who sees all, forgives us and HOLDS US BLAMELESS!  God is so gracious, that He still granted that promise – a precious son, Isaac, to Abraham and Sarah.  This son would be a part of fulfilling the blessing of salvation for the whole earth.

LORD, You are awesome, Holy and Perfect in all Your ways!  Thank you for taking up all of our burdens, shame and blame.

The Price of Negligence

Photo Credit thecounselingnetwork.org

Photo Credit
thecounselingnetwork.org

Leviticus 5:1

“When a person sins in that he hears a public curse against one who fails to testify and he is a witness (he either saw or knew what had happened) and he does not make it known, then he will bear his punishment for iniquity.”

Leviticus 5:5

“When an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned.”

Leviticus 5:17

“If a person sins and violates any of the LORD’s commandments which must not be violated (although he did not know it at the time, but later realizes he is guilty), then he will bear his punishment for iniquity.”

I love how reading passages over and over again there is always something to glean from God’s Word! Leviticus is often thought of as being dry and a lot of jargon about offerings and prescriptions for dealing with sin. It couldn’t apply to us today, could it?  As a mother of five children, I have often heard the expression, “I didn’t know”, or “I forgot”, or “It was an accident”.  What strikes me in the verses above is that there are no excuses given for the offender’s lack of knowledge of their own transgression.  Instead, there is a prescribed solution, and the One to whom we are accountable paid it.  We cannot take care of our sin our way, though.  It must be in accordance with the One with Whom we will give an account.  While it is difficult for our generation to understand the slaughtering of animals for the propitiation of our sins, both for known and unknown sin, we have the same sins going on today and the same excuses.  Acknowledging our shortcomings is just as necessary and required by our Holy God.

We are good at making excuses for ourselves in this generation, but the idea of the scapegoat has been around a long time.  In Hebrew, the word scapegoat is Saʿir La-ʿazaʾzel, (one interpretation is “a goat for Azazel”, which means strong God).  This refers to a goat being used to bear the sins of Israel during the ritual of Yom Kippur.  The scapegoat has been used in most cultures, ironically.  Whether the goat was sacrificed or set free to bear all of the iniquities, it did not have a choice – it was chosen to take away the people’s sin.

Mankind recognizes it has a need to have sin dealt with, if we are honest with ourselves.  But we often create our own solutions as to how to remedy our sinful status.  We can also come up with excuses, rationalize or placate our guilt.  Maybe the standards were to high, or maybe someone else is responsible or to blame. But not in God’s economy. No fig leaf is sufficient to cover our shame or guilt and redefining our guilt to make ourselves feel better really doesn’t.  We still need covering for our hidden and known sins today, but we do not have a scapegoat – we have the Lamb – who chose to bear all of our sins.

Recently, I became aware of negligence in an area of my life.  It was hidden from me in that I did not recognize it as sin, just an inability.  Becoming aware of something as sin is not fun and we can easily dismiss it as maybe we are not talented in a certain area or lack understanding.  It can be easier to avoid it rather than face accountability.  Maybe it is not a sin, after all.  But once I are aware, I am culpable.  No more ignorance to hide behind.  Although it is difficult to have to work on those areas of our character that are challenging for us, we cannot pretend any longer that we do not know.  We must instead ask God to help and to strengthen us in our areas of weakness.

I am grateful that God exposes our sins.  He does so to free us.  The deeper we go, the more unrighteous we may appear, but cooperating with the Holy Spirit when He illumines our hidden sins, which we often couch as inabilities or habits that are a part of our personality, is ultimate victory.  True, we each have our own unique challenges in our perspective walks with God, but He is sufficient to help each of us in our time of need.

Thank You, Lord, for lifting the veil so we could see and gain access to You.  Thank You for Your grace and love, which always seeks to rid us of the cancer of sin and draw us nearer to You.  Praise Your Name!