Recently I was reading the comments section on a Facebook post, which is always a dangerous place to go. Someone who I follow online posted something and then later posted a retraction with updated information from better sources. Someone commented on her original post demanding better sources and after being called out by other people for being rude, he used the phrase “I was hoping to instill a sense of shame in her….” Now, this conversation has a context that I don’t want to get into because it’s not the point of what I want to say.
Unmasking the Shame
As I read his words, I thought about how he was calling to attention his own intent behind his words. Usually the intent of trying to shame someone is subtle – it’s hidden behind words, body language, and facial expressions. But here he pulled all that aside and plainly said he wanted to shame her. I felt the Lord nudging me to consider how many times we (okay ME) try to subtly shame others. We may not come right out and say it, but the intent behind our words or our actions is often clear.
Shame is Not Guilt
Shame is not the same as guilt. Shame says, “I am a bad person.” Guilt says, “I have done something bad, I have made a mistake.” I am not talking about being honest with someone about when they have hurt you, or warning them of a mistake they are about to make. I am talking about deliberately attempting to shame someone so that you have more control over them, so you feel superior, or so you can make them regret a mistake they have made that has hurt or affected you.
As I reflected on this, I felt the Lord beginning to deal with me, reminding me of times I have done this. It has always been out of a place of frustration or brokenness in my life. When people are broken, they want everyone else around them to be broken, too. Sure, no one else may have picked up on my intent, but we always know when we’re being petty in the inside.
I would encourage you to examine your interactions with others. How do you respond when someone disappoints you? Hurts you? Doesn’t meet your expectations? I think the Golden Rule is best applied here. In comparison, how would you prefer someone to treat you when you mess up?
Jesus, Our Ever Present Example
I know Jesus never went the shame route. The Son of Man, the Messiah never chose to shame people, even when they were caught red-faced in the middle of their sin. The Most Righteous One, who has every right to judge the inner heart of anyone He comes across always met mistakes with love. Peering into their hearts, He judged what they needed most — eyes of love looking upon them, reminding them of their value, and healing their brokenness.
Jesus doesn’t play games. Jesus doesn’t shame.
Instead, we could extend the right hand of fellowship, offer an olive branch, and present a way forward in love.
May we always be more and more like Jesus. Let it be so.
What His Love really looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fI9aqfmVmPc