Unashamed: Psalm 25

You will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting. Is. 45:17

Shame is a secret wound that many of us carry, sometimes without knowing it until an ugly moment of truth rips away the bandage. Thoughts of anything from a less-than-perfect grade to a history of abuse can send shame pile-driving into your soul. Shame can feel like a ton of concrete just landed on your shoulders – or lodged in your gut. The open exposure of our disgrace drives us into hiding, either literally or figuratively, just as it did our first parents in Eden. For David in Psalm 25, shame was the consequence of being defeated by his enemies before a watching world.
The Bible speaks about guilt and also about shame. Unfortunately, we often use the terms interchangeably. Psychologists define guilt as the feeling that “I have done something bad,” while shame is the feeling that “I am bad.” Shame afflicts its victims even after they have repented and even where no repentance is warranted. David wasn’t a stranger to either guilt or shame. Psalm 51, for example, is David’s admission of guilt after committing adultery and murder. God used his feelings of guilt to drive him to repentance and a restored relationship. On the other hand, in Psalm 25, verse 2, David describes shame as a weapon that God’s enemies use against God’s children. This song celebrates the wisdom of God which teaches us how to avoid legitimate guilt through obedience and the grace of God which removes our sins so completely, it is as if He could not remember them.  It also describes a right relationship with God as the only sure refuge from shame.
God sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ and seated with Him in heaven (Eph. 2:6) because that’s our truest nature. The human heart of darkness which deserves real shame has been replaced by a loving heart of flesh − at the cost of God’s own flesh. It has already been accomplished for us. Even though we will spend a lifetime shedding the old nature and growing into our new one, we don’t need to define ourselves by the part of us which is dying. What we have done can never change who we are in Christ. We need never again be ashamed before God, and shame before man is nothing but idolatry.
Shame has no power over those who trust God. That is the message of Psalm 25, and that is the message of the cross. The next time a load of shame lands on your soul, cry out to God as David does. You cannot be put to shame if you take refuge in Him.


  1. Is Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross enough to cover your sins? Is His righteousness enough to clothe you in beauty?
  1. What makes you feel ashamed before men? Read Col. 1:21-23. Is man’s opinion of you truer or more important than God’s?


Frustrated woman holding a comically long to do listI have a wonderful group of long-term friends. If you don’t, then please go out and find some. It’s not as easy as making a couple of phone calls, though, so be brave and prayerful and persistent. Think of it as a project. And make sure you find one jewel that just won’t let relationships die. In my circle there is a beautiful soul who serves us all with that gift (you know who you are).

So we’ve been dialoging a bit about busyness: that overstressed, underloved, cranky feeling that you will never catch up, never sit down, never do enough, serve enough, be enough. It’s what keeps you from reading to the end of this blog or doing something you enjoy or sitting down for-Heaven’s-sake ten minutes. Lots to talk about here, but the crux of the matter seems to be “No.” We-who-are-busy have internal programming that keeps us from saying it. And that internal programming has to do with our worth. Whether it is our jaded self-appraisal, a perceived command from God or the dour face of a near relative, something inside urges us on to the next tiring task, whispering, “It is not yet sufficient.” So one of my wise friends recently sent me an extended quote containing this zinger: “Don’t let the easily-offended critic set the agenda. Believe in your yes. Hold fast to your no.” (Emily Freeman, Million Little Ways)

Ms. Freeman suggested that the motivation for our firmness should lie in our artfulness, the creative sculpting of our lives and character into lovely shapes. White statue of VenusI have not read her book, but I don’t think easily in terms of art. I have to think in terms of love. Will this decision help me love God and others better? Or will I actually end up loving them less well? ‘Doing’ is only one expression of love, and it can rob me of the capacity to express love in words, in thoughts, in tenderness, and in the true feelings of my heart. Colossians 3 adjures us to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. I can’t do that when I’m too busy.

But the hanging judge in my head is ever-present, and I often find it hard to be bold with my “no” unless I’ve spent meaningful time in prayer, Scripture and soliciting wise counsel. (It’s easier to make these decisions for others.) But in a sense, that is already a victory. Waiting, praying, discussing is probably a better response than my knee-jerk, “OK” which robs me of rest. It means that I will begin to listen to other voices, to follow the footsteps of my Savior rather than following the dictates of my inner critic who is never satisfied. That little god refuses to die for me, so better to follow the big God who already did.

For the Love… a Critical Review

unnamedJen Hatmaker, whose previous book was a spiritual adventure for me, recently published For the Love to rave reviews and a place on the New York Times Bestseller List.  Her new book is a fun stream-of-consciousness roller coaster ride through the rants and raves of a Jesus-loving, preacher’s wife and mother-of-5, sprinkled with a little minor celebrity glitz. It is, therefore, not what I  expected, and it does not deliver on the promises made in advance publicity, the book’s own introduction or even its pithy subtitle: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards.  Because of the misconceptions people might have about it, I am posting this fairly critical review.

Although For the Love occasionally makes a great point of practical theology (“If you can make a pot of chili and use a cell phone, then you can create community,” or, “Anytime the rich and poor combine, we should listen to whoever has the least power.”), it is not what I expected because the title suckered me. I thought it was going to be a straight-up education about grace applied to ourselves primarily and others secondarily, something we all sorely need, whether we are coming from the get-your-life-in-line end of the spectrum or the let-it-all-hang-out end. But it’s not. After the wonderful introduction, grace is never directly addressed again, and there are whole chapters which don’t even use the word. There IS a chapter on fashion, multiple chapters addressing pet peeves, Jen’s life in Facebook posts and several intricate recipes. Yes, there are a couple of serious chapters about missions (ala When Helping Hurts) and church leaders, but there is approximately one Bible reference (ok, I found three more in the second-to-last, confusing chapter encouraging women to lead more) and for a book touting grace, I felt kind of ragged on a few times.

I could be the author’s mother (if I’d had a couple rough teen years), and I’ve earned the right to say that sometimes this good-hearted lady knows not of what she speaks. By her own admission she hasn’t been through a lot of hardships. She has a loving pastor-husband, five great kids who are still at home, and she and her friends cheer on one another’s published books, released CD’s, TV shows and popular podcasts. If someone is going to tell me how to raise kids, have a great marriage or dispense grace on the mission field, I’d like to hear it from someone who has suffered a bit. Talk to me again when there’s only one of you working on your marriage, when your grown child has embraced atheism, when you’ve had a significant part of your body disfigured, or when your best friend or your dreams have died a slow death. Until then, please adhere to truth in advertising by subtitling your book: Funny Blogs about Being a Middle-aged Christian Mom.

Please buy this book (seriously, do) if you want to read some light yet inspiring Christian humor. Just don’t be fooled by the title like I was. And, Jen, when you decide to write the book you promised in the introduction, I’ll stand in line for it.

Related Material:

Why Christians Aren’t Seriously Studying God’s Word by Sam Storms

Going Deeper – CT

And to prove I’m not against Christian humor, here’s a funny video about Shallow Small Groups