Ashamed, what does this emotion really mean or feel like?
Synonyms include contrite, remorseful, humbled, regretful, debased, conscience-stricken. To me conscience-stricken is the best description.
Some might say that forgetting the words to a speech, making a public mistake, being ridiculed, or failing at something causes shame, but I think embarrassment describes those situations. Embarrassment produces feelings of awkwardness and discomfort. It can even cause you to feel acutely self-conscious. However, shame goes much deeper into our souls and makes lifting our eyes to God difficult.
Being ashamed is one of the worst feelings, especially when caused by sin and poor choices, which it always is! Consequently, shame produces an unbearable feeling of self-hatred, but, through Jesus, this intense emotion can be overcome.
ASHAMED EVE (Genesis 3)
Nothing new under the sun, Solomon tells us, and shame is no exception. Undoubtedly, the first woman, Eve, was ashamed when God came looking for her in the garden. After all, she was hiding from God because pride and Satan convinced her that disobedience was the path to happiness.
ASHAMED MIRIAM (Exodus 2: 1-10 & Numbers 12:1-15)
While pride was Eve’s problem, jealousy was Miriam’s struggle. Who was this younger brother anyway? After all, she was the one who sat and watched Moses until Pharaoh’s daughter found him on the banks of the Nile. Wasn’t she the one who set into motion the scheme that allowed her mother to nurse and care for Moses during his younger years? You betcha.
Okay, Okay, I know God used Moses to rescue the Israelites, including Miriam, from Egyptian bondage. Still, if it weren’t for his sister, Moses wouldn’t be alive!
Oh, and he married a foreigner. How embarrassing.
Additionally, she voiced her vitriol along with her other brother, probably in hopes of stirring up dissension.
While we might understand Miriam’s point of view, God was less than delighted with her attitude.
Stricken with leprosy, exiled for seven days, and stopping the movement of her people towards the Promised Land surely allowed her time to contemplate the shame caused by her words and actions.
ASHAMED MARTHA (Luke 10: 38-42)
Know better than God syndrome is common now and in biblical times. After all, Martha, who knew Jesus personally, chastised Him for not making her sister help in the kitchen. Perhaps Martha believed Jesus would be ashamed and tell Mary to do what was right – help Martha! Yeah, that was going to happen. Did she forget that He was her perfect Lord and Savior?
SO, WHAT CAUSES SHAME?
Sinning against God brings shame, but sometimes we bury it deep to avoid the pain.
Remember when David had an affair with Bathsheba, and afterwards had her husband murdered to cover up the sins? Obviously, David squashed his shame. After all, he married Bathsheba and went on his merry way, as if there was nothing to see here.
That is until Nathan came on the scene and told David a story about a rich man who stole from someone less fortunate. Shocked at the unfairness of such behavior, David thought the rich man should die!
When Nathan revealed that the man in the story was David, his shame before God hurt David’s heart. The shame had been there; it just needed to brought to the surface. (2 Samuel 11 & 12: 1-25)
SO, DOES GOD CARE WHEN WE’RE ASHAMED?
Since this is Thanksgiving month, let’s look at the above situations in more depth and how thankfulness, or lack thereof, played a part.
God forced Eve out of hiding and made her face her shame. Yes, there were consequences, but God still stayed with Eve, and she became the mother of humanity. In fact, the plan for redemption of mankind began.
Lack of thankfulness: Eve wasn’t thankful for the beautiful paradise in which she lived and walked with God – no, she wanted more!
God confronted Miriam about her attitude toward Moses, which in reality was questioning God’s ways. Again there were consequences, but grace abounded. Not a permanent exile, but time for her to reflect.
Lack of Thankfulness: At first, Miriam did show thanks upon being rescued from slavery in Egypt. She led women in a song of praise that is recorded in the Bible. (Exodus 15: 20-27) However, it doesn’t take long for her thankfulness to wane and she became bitter towards God for what she saw as favoritism of the youngest brother. She wanted to be more important!
Think Martha had difficulty looking at Jesus when He challenged her thinking? Jesus forced Martha to check her priorities, but the relationship remained intact. He even raised her brother from the dead! (John 11: 17-44)
Lack of Thankfulness: The privilege to serve Jesus and hear him speak wisdom in her presence was part of Martha’s life. Instead of thankfulness, her desire was for Jesus to do her bidding on what she considered important.
And David’s consequences were severe, but let’s face it, David’s actions were horrendous. However, David remained on the throne, and, more importantly, his relationship with God was restored.
Lack of Thankfulness: He was rich, famous, admired, and powerful, but he allowed lust to take away a thankful heart.
SO, WHAT ABOUT US?
Of course, we are thankful for and content with God’s blessings. Eating forbidden fruit like Eve – no way!
We are never like Miriam. Always thankful for our gifts and blessings. Jealousy of other’s gifts and blessings is never a problem in our lives.
And that bossy Martha, how could she? I am thankful for the privilege of prayer and Bible study and I never boss God around or tell Him how to answer my prayers, wants, and needs. Yep, ‘His will be done’ is my mantra and I live by it without complaint, challenge, or criticism.
As far as David is concerned, I am way too thankful to allow adultery and murder into my life. Ah, but, remember, Jesus equated lust and anger with these two sins in His Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5: 21-22 and Matthew 5:27)
Okay, you get my point. We are similar to at least one, if not all, of the above people. And an ungrateful heart is part of the problem.
SO, WHAT’S AN ASHAMED GIRL TO DO?
While hiding seems like a clever idea, it isn’t, considering that it doesn’t work. Eve learned that the hard way. So, instead, grab hold of the hope offered to us in Hebrews 6: 18: God cannot lie. Therefore, “this gives us strength to hold on to the hope we have been given.” (NCV) In other words, hide in the arms of Jesus.
Defiance isn’t an admirable look on Miriam or anyone else. Notice the intercessory actions of Aaron and Moses. Ask for prayer from trusted people, and, of course, offer your own prayer of confession and seek forgiveness.
A tendency to be bossy, led Martha to not only insist Jesus agree with her regarding Mary’s place, (Luke 10: 38-41) but in John 11: 21, she chastised Jesus for not being prompt. Being the boss of God is never a stellar notion.
However, later in John, Martha acknowledges Jesus’s divinity, purpose, and the resurrection of life. So, believe and honor our Savior even, no especially, in times of shame. And He might perform a miracle. Remember how this encounter with Martha ends – Jesus brings Lazarus back to life!
Lust lead David to a shameful act. Remember that lust can take many forms. We can lust for power, money, fame, etc. We will at times seek things not right or good for us, but don’t be like David and squash our shame. However, follow David and be ready and willing to hear God speak. Admit your shame and accept the consequences. Just be sure your relationship with God takes priority and is restored.
Need more help? Click here for some additional Scripture verses dealing with shame.
I KNOW, I KNOW, THIS ISN’T A TYPICAL THANKSGIVING POST!
Click on one or all of the articles listed below between now and the holiday to evoke the Thanksgiving mood.
A devotion written in 2017 on the meaning of the word thankful. A different perspective on Miriam is on display in this blog post.
Give Thanks Always , a pandemic article written in 2020, takes a look at the question: What do I long for?
A 2021 article, Ungrateful Heart, guides the reader to a more appreciative attitude. Additionally, there is a Thanksgiving exercise to do throughout the year.
Next month is the last in the ‘Does God Care?’ series. And yes, it will be a Christmas post!
As always, comments are welcome and encouraged. Comment on this article about shame or share ways to deal with shame.
Want to talk about Thanksgiving? Tell us about family traditions, ideas on how to maintain a thankful heart, or comment on one of the Thanksgiving articles listed above.
IT IS YOUR CHOICE. JUST COMMENT!
Also, are there any subjects you would like to read about in 2023? Please let me know in the comment section below. If you prefer, click on contact at the top right of the page and send me a private email.