By Brooke Holt
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” Joel 2:26-27
What is shame and how does it impact your life? It is important to differentiate between shame and guilt. Healthy guilt results from sin in your life; it is the nagging sense to repent and make things right. Guilt conveys the truth that you made a mistake. Unlike guilt, shame does not lead one to repentance but hiding. Where guilt says, “I made a mistake”, shame says “I am a mistake”.
The Lord never meant for his people to live in shame. Remember when Adam and Eve at the fruit from the forbidden tree? Immediately, they covered themselves with fig leaves and then hid from the Lord when they heard his footsteps in the garden (see Genesis 3:1-12). Adam and Eve hid their bodies from each other and then sought to hide the shame of their sin from the Lord. Shame leads people to hide.
Thankfully, God has provided the antidote for shame; it is called grace. Even in the Old Testament, God made the way for the peoples’ shame to be healed. In this portion of Joel, the Lord acknowledges their shame in being judged unfaithful. Their sin invoked the consequences displayed in God’s judgment. Instead of leaving them in that place of shame and devastation, the Lord offers healing and freedom from shame.
The way towards that healing and freedom were through repentance, through returning to the Lord, and then through the Lord’s merciful restoration. The Lord would come and dwell with his people once again; he would provide abundantly for them; and he would remove the shame from them. What a good and merciful God!
Shame was not just a thing of the Old Testament but is alive and well today. The enemy uses shame to keep God’s people in hiding. Things have been done to you that are wrong, and you feel defiled, dirty, and thus unworthy of God’s love. Or maybe you have done things to others or yourself. You have failed miserably at following the Lord, and you have felt the consequences of that. Shame would love to keep you in that bondage, but Jesus came to set you free!
The prophet Isaiah foretold of the coming Redeemer who would bring about a divine exchange: “Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot” (Isaiah 61:7). Jesus took all your shame upon himself as he died upon that cross (see Hebrews 12:2). He wants to make this divine exchange with you today. You take his righteousness, and he will take your shame.
Joel exhorted the Israelites to repent, return, and be restored that their shame would be removed from them, and God would dwell in the midst of them. They would have his presence and the fullness of his blessings.
Will you allow God to make the divine exchange with you today? You give him all your shame and then receive his righteousness? Never take that shame back again! We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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