There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…. (Romans 8:1)
I have carried the weight of condemnation and shame like a backpack of tyranny upon my soul. Its oppression has set me in places behind bars and its weight has kept me from running freely with the Lord Jesus Christ. Even today, as I write I am finding there is still shame in my heart. As I ask the Lord to search my heart what I find there is a message that says, “this is your fault.”
Sadly, I have had people in my life tell me that message. If I have had that happen, I know that you have too. Unfortunately, many of us speak out of our own personal brokenness and we cover it with statements of, “this is what God would want me to do.” I think we believe that because we speak before we listen to the Lord. We do not sit in places of rest. We do not sit with others in their pain either. We want the problem to be done with so we piously believe our words will fix the problem.
These messages have only placed me in a state of deeper oppression over the memorandum of shame the enemy has tried to cast upon my heart. I think we do a great disservice to people when what we try to do is fix them, not minister to them. Jesus was a healer. He rebuked people when their hearts were far from God, but He never used shame to motivate people to deeper lengths of faith. Whenever we speak into someone’s life before properly listening to their stories we have become the stench of death to them.
I’ll be honest, I too have wrongfully spoken messages of shame into the hearts of people. It comes from a misunderstanding of grace. I have been quick to try and call out bad behavior before properly caring for the heart of that individual.
Should we be called out when we sin? Yes, absolutely, but if the message we speak into the hearts of those we are ministering to is, “this is your fault, figure it out,” we only load them up with heavy burdens they were never meant to carry. It is the cross that liberates men and women from shame. The cross releases our burdens. The cross sets us free from the message of, “this is your fault.”
Jesus’ ministry was centered around grace. HIs mission was to set people free from bondage and shame. Why then do we only place people back into prisons of shame? Why do we tie up heavy burdens to place on their backs thinking it will somehow motivate them towards change when all it actually does it weigh them down into the grave? If someone comes to you and says, I have been hurt, abused, mistreated and rejected our first response must be to care for that person. We must understand that there is a deep message of shame already written upon their heart. They already carry unnecessary guilt.
A dear friend of mine once said to me, “Heather, you have to speak what is into what is not until what is not becomes what is.” At first, I didn’t understand what he meant, but as I processed his comment with the Lord I started to understand the intended application.
Walking with someone in discipleship doesn’t mean that we speak into their hearts the wrong of who they are, but instead, we speak to them the truth of who they are in Christ. We remind them of the Father’s love for them. We journey with them away from bondage and towards grace. Doing so releases them from shame and places them on a path towards victory. Should there be accountability and repentance for destructive behavior? Yes, absolutely, but when the individual has repented we must carry them back to the cross, the place where shame was set free.
My husband has a friend who always says of people, “You are awesome for God.” At first, I’ll admit, his statement bothered me. I would think, that person is not awesome for God, look at their life and what they’re doing! Now I understand the reason for his positive approach. We cannot change the hearts of people. Only love does that. Even when we speak a word of rebuke into someone’s heart it should never be motivated by shame, manipulation or anger, it should always be presented in love.
Oh Lord, I rebuke any message of shame the enemy wants to set up in m heart! Today, I receive your grace! I ask that the Lord and grace that was poured out on Calvary would be poured into my heart even now. Jesus, you love me! That is good news indeed. Today I live in that freedom with great joy for your glory! Amen!