Have you ever been at a place in your life when you feel like you’re no longer on track with what God wanted for your life? Have you ever felt that you were unworthy to experience what God wanted to bless you with? Have you ever counted yourself out?
I’ll never forget the freedom I felt the first time I realized that the condemning conversation – that had been running in my head for years – was missing a very important voice: God’s. I had been listening to condemnation, hate, anxiety, and shame for so long that I stopped listening to and believing God’s tender and loving voice.
Shame has a way of convincing you that your mistakes completely define your entire existence. Even though there is truth to the history of sinful actions you have performed, shame tells you that because of your bad actions, you are bad – that because of the things you’ve done that don’t live up to God’s best for you, you are, therefore, a disappointment and unworthy of love. But here’s a secret: shame is a liar.
Every conclusion that shame leads you to is completely opposite of what God says about you. Everything shame wants you to believe is backward. God speaks one thing. Shame twists it. Shame steals joy from you. Shame destroys your confidence. Shame kills your desire to experience the abundant life that God is holding out to you.
So if you experience loss and destruction at the hands of shame, where can you turn to find abundant life? Faith. Grab hold of a faith in everything that God says about you.
So, for those times when you need to exchange shame for faith, here are six gospel reminders before you count yourself out.
You’ve been loved from the beginning of time. You have been the recipient of God’s faithful love before you ever even existed. I love how the apostle Paul begins his letter to the Ephesian church! He says, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” It was God’s eternal plan to love you. Nothing can change that!
You were loved, even as a foe. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Translation: God demonstrated his great love for you in the face of your great sin. And if that wasn’t enough to stop him from pursuing you in love, how much more will he continue to love you, now that you’re his? Check out how Romans 5 continues: “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” You can believe that more than ever before, God is tirelessly working in every area of your life to convince you that he loves you and that he is for you.
Your story is not over. You are not the sum of your choices. You are not defined simply by where you’ve been and what you’ve done. The Bible says that God is actively working to shape your life – today isn’t the end of your story. Paul raised a poignant and fairly relevant point in this regard. He said, “Let me ask you only this: ‘Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain – if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?‘” (Galatians 3:2-5). In other words, there is a future for you that God can see and that he is shaping you for through the same power that was already working to save you.
This speaks more about your worth than anything you’ve done in the past. In fact, the things you’ve sinfully done in the past have already been paid for, and thus, are not even relevant to define you by. It’s done…and you aren’t! Your story isn’t over yet! I love what Philippians 1:6 says: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Keep your faith in the One who began a good work in you – he’s not finished with you yet.
Your value is defined by God. Even in the midst of your mess, it’s God who defines your value, not your performance. Paul said something very powerful at the end of 2 Corinthians 5 that I think we often miss. He said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them… He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
In other words, everything you’ve done has been paid for by Jesus, and all that’s left to be defined is who you are. And God says you are new and you are righteous. Your value is defined by God because of who he made you to be. Don’t count yourself out simply because you’ve fallen down. Get back up (cf. Prov. 24:16), and keep walking with God.
You are free from condemnation. Romans 8:1 claims: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Condemnation has no power over you anymore; the Judge who could have justly condemned you decided to pay your penalty himself. Thus, the things you feel condemnation for have already been paid for! You’re free! Jesus experienced your condemnation so he could set you free and so you could experience a life full of freedom. “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law” (Galatians 5:1).
You are worth dying for. I quoted this passage from Romans 5earlier, but it bears repeating: “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”
Allow that infinitely unjust statement to hit you hard. Go back and read it again. Seriously, take another minute to re-read that previous passage.
Do you hear what God is saying to you through his Word? He is saying that you are eternally worthy of his love and faithfulness because of who you are to him. You are his redeemed and treasured child. You are made in his image and redeemed for a glorious destiny. That alone renders you worthy – eternally so!
I hope at least one of these reminders finds a way into your heart and sends you back to the place of faith – the place of believing what God says about you. Every conclusion that shame leads you to is completely opposite of what God says about you. God speaks one thing. Shame twists it. Shame steals joy from you. Shame destroys your confidence. Shame kills your desire to experience the abundant life that God is holding out to you. But God sent Jesus “so that [you] may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).
Which one of these reminders speaks to you most?
Let me know in the comments below and keep the conversation going!