Here are the significant differences between godly shame and guilt that leads to repentance and the unhealthy kind that hurts us.
There is a kind of a shame that is healthy. It comes when we realize we are sinners who need God’s forgiveness. It is shame that brings us to repentance. However, we are not supposed to stay in this state. We are supposed to let go of guilt and shame and move on with our lives.
God does not want us to wallow in shame and its accompanying emotion, guilt. We must trust that He has forgiven us, which means we should clear our consciences. When we continue to feel shame, we do not believe that God has cleansed us. God promised that we would become white as snow. (Psalm 51:7).
Shame is really a means to an end, a part of a process to bring us to repentance. It was not meant to torment us and hang over our heads day by day. Worldy shame will cripple us emotionally if we let it.
Psalm 51 describes this process of processing godly shame:
- We ask for God to have mercy on us according to His loving kindnesses
- We confess that we have sinned and done evil in the sight of God
- We ask him to blot out our transgressions, cleanse us from sin, and create a new heart in us
- We accept the consequences of our actions and God’s correction
Godly shame shows us our sins and creates a desire in us to ask God for forgiveness. God not only forgives us; He cleanses us. He wipes the slate clean. We can be renewed with joy.
We should be ashamed of sin, and then only until we have repented and are cleansed by God. We are encouraged not to cower in shame because of things that happened to us in our childhood, our mistakes, or our personal appearance, but let us boldly go to the throne of grace so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
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