How Can You Be Set Free From Shame?
Can you really be free?
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.
It was just something little... I had said I would sew a button on a shirt for a friend, but I had that shirt for a long time and still hadn't sewed the button on. I was embarrassed when I saw a friend and apologized. The friend smiled and said, "You are forgiven!" What freedom I felt from those words! The shame I had felt completely melted away.
It has been said that “you don’t own it until it costs you something.” My friend didn't have access to a favorite shirt for weeks. That "cost" him, and yet he forgave me. But what if it had been a serious offense? What if you were asked to forgive a serious offense? That’s the situation a wonderful Christian named Corrie found herself in.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch woman who was arrested and imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II. She survived the Ravensbrück concentration camp, but her sister, Betsie, died there. After the war, Corrie shared with many people how God had sustained her in prison. This story takes place several years after the war ended.
"It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbrück. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” He said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so, I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."
In forgiveness, both the shame of the offender and the bitterness of the person offended are healed by God's love. The Bible tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
Pray this week:
Lord Jesus, I want to live in that freedom from shame and bitterness. Please forgive me for… Lord, I forgive… Heal us both. Amen.
Is there someone you need to forgive? Do you need to ask another person’s forgiveness?