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April 13, 2016

Text: “Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us. For we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 3:25

Shame is a bitter pill to swallow for everybody. It is like wearing the “A” Hester Pryne was forced to wear in The Scarlett Letter (novel by  Nathanael Hawthorne). Jeremiah chastens God’s people because of their infidelity to him: infidelity to their marriage contract (covenant) with God. The “weeping prophet” (so called for his sorrow regarding their coming divine judgment) calls for the nation to lie down in the grave and be covered with their shameful sins. Their punishment will be humiliating beyond the nth degree.

What is shame? Webster’s dictionary gives the sense: “a feeling of responsibility for wrongdoing”. Close synonyms are: contrition, regret, and self reproach. Shame is a correlative of the conscience. We may infer from the creation account in Genesis 2:25 that before the fall of Adam and Eve the first couple did not have consciences, but this knowledge of right and wrong accrued to them by God endowing them thus. Genesis 3:7 Different human cultures and taboos have also widened the sense of other facets of right and wrong. God gave this monitor of right and wrong for us to consult regarding the probity of our behavior. “Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.” Ezekiel 36:36-32b

However, shame can be silenced or diminished by its owner. Shame is like the radio; the volume can be reduced so that one does not hurt so much inside! It can be shrunken to complete silence. When it is ignored the effect is the betrayal of an individual’s honor and integrity. The silenced sense of shame destroys dignity and self-respect.

Due to advancing years and spinal disease I have neuropathy in my feet. The nerves in the feet have deteriorated and my brain doesn’t receive all the proper signals that provide for good walking or balance. No remedy is available, so I am not taking any invitations to dance an Irish jig. (I always wanted to do that.) However, when one’s sense of shame has grown less acute than is needed to discern right and wrong, it may be restored by your will to obey God properly and re-instruction from God’s word. So, repent and revitalize! “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” Acts 3:19-20a

When shame causes sorrow and remorse it is signaling that you are broken. Do not ignore nor stifle these important messages to your soul. Otherwise, you will wear a public stigma for the rest of your life and make repentance more difficult. Fix it immediately! Keep both shame and conscience in good repair so that you will always know when you have sinned and need repentance and a new beginning. I  have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22

Lastly, refrain from becoming like the Israelites as Jeremiah described them.  “Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush.” Jeremiah 8:12




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