By Jennifer Heeren, Crosswalk.com
There’s nothing new about Satan’s schemes, even in this time of COVID-19. He’s still using shame as a weapon.
People may try to shame you for not watching the news 24/7 and not knowing every detail about the situation. It’s good to stay informed on how the virus is spreading or declining, as well as your local recommended ordinances. But the news can also stir up fear, discouragement, and distrust.
If you sense that the enemy may be shutting you down, try tuning in to the essential information but then look for some of the good news as well. Look for examples of people recovering from the virus. Many people have already recovered from coronavirus. It is not deadly all of the time. There are also a lot of people who have not gotten the illness and hopefully never will.
Better still, reach for God’s truth. It’s a great idea to seek wisdom and peace in your Bible.
People may try to shame you because you’re not fighting the virus in the same way they are. Some of the basic procedures of preventing the illness will look similar such as wearing masks in public, washing hands often, and keeping distance between yourself and other people.
But people decide differently how often to step out of their homes. Some people may choose to stay in their house almost 24/7. Some may spend a lot of time in their yard and walking around the block. Some will venture away from their house while still practicing social distancing.
Satan can shame us into thinking we’re not doing enough or not doing anything right to combat the virus. Everyone will have a different opinion on this. Listen to your inner common sense, God’s whispers of wisdom, and the CDC basic recommendations, then do what’s right for you.
No regime is a 100% cure-all, but common sense will work most of the time and then God’s grace can cover our inevitable mistakes. When I do my best to love my neighbors around me, I will be doing what I can to protect them.
Yet whether we’re in a pandemic—or any other crisis—Satan sees an opportunity to use shame. And we need to combat his lies with grace and truth.
As 1 Peter 5:8-9 puts it,
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. (emphasis added)
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God Doesn’t Desire Fear or Shame
Sometimes people point their fingers and condemn other people. They’re likely either trying to control you, or they’re jealous of you in some way. Sometimes the best way to handle these instances is to simply say, “Thank you, I’ll consider your point.” That’s it. Don’t argue. Don’t overexplain your side.
However, shame doesn’t always come from what a person says directly. It’s often a feeling we get when we “think” someone is thinking badly about us. It’s our own fear of what people will think of us. Nobody says anything; we just think they are thinking something.
This kind of shame is the fear of man and is rooted in pride.
Love, Trust, Conviction, Repentance—Not Fear or Condemnation
Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety (Proverbs 29:25). Deep down we know that we’re sinful and make a lot of mistakes so it’s easy to believe the bad things that we think people are thinking about us.
While it is true that we’re sinful, God doesn’t want us to feel shame. He wants us to feel convicted when we do wrong and repent. Shame makes us feel bad. Conviction helps us to improve and ultimately feel better.
The root of shame is a lie because we are unfathomably loved. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. When we invite His love into our hearts, we become children of God and shame loses its power.
Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces (Psalm 34:5).
Feelings of Shame Don’t Come from God
In fact, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ because the life-giving power of the Spirit has freed you from the power of sin (Romans 8:1-2). Repentance, love, and renewal do come from God and they always bring life. So, don’t let your hearts be troubled and trust in God (John 14:1).
God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17).
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Examples of How God Did Not Shame
Adam and Eve both sinned by disobeying God in the garden. God did judge their actions, and consequences happened, but only the serpent and the ground were cursed.
God even showed mercy to Adam and Eve when they realized that they were naked. He sacrificed animals to give them a covering. There’s consequences to sin but when you repent, there is no shame.
Rahab was a prostitute but when she was confronted by two men trying to do God’s will, she saw God behind the situation. She began to fear their God whom she now saw as the supreme God of both the heavens and the earth.
When the walls came down and everything in Jericho was destroyed, Rahab and her household were spared and they lived with the Israelites for the rest of their lives. It seems that after Rahab saw God work so mightily, her devotion to the Lord caused her to repent of her sins. There’s no room for shame when you realize that your life has been redeemed.
The woman caught in the act of adultery faced a shaming crowd who wanted to stone her. Crowds often want to draw attention away from themselves by pointing fingers at someone else.
Jesus calmly stooped down and wrote something in the sand. We don’t know what he wrote but it must have been profound because it drew the attention away from this poor woman.
Everyone was staring at her, making her feel ashamed. Then Jesus simply said that the person who has never sinned can be the first to throw a stone. The accusers threw down their stones and one by one walked away from the scene.
Once everyone was gone, Jesus addressed the woman’s sin in a personal conversation. He dismissed the condemnation that she was feeling and emphasized that she could repent and go forward with her life fully redeemed.
Each of us can take the emphasis off feeling shame and place it instead on knowing our sins are redeemed. God wants to make us new so we can walk freely. He doesn’t want us cowering in corners not feeling worthy to live. He wants us to come boldly to His throne to receive His mercy.
When we do, we find grace (Hebrews 4:16). Then each of us can apply His immense forgiveness toward others when they do us wrong. Jesus gave us a new commandment to love each other. Just as He has loved us, we should love others (John 13:34).
In the time of coronavirus as well as all other parts and trials of lives, we should be cautious but not afraid. Never let circumstances shame you out of living the greatest commandments: to love God and your neighbors.
Take each day as a new opportunity whether you’re in quarantine at home or slowly stepping out into a little bit of life again. Take one step at a time into the future. Always remember that God is with you as you go, and He is not ashamed of you.
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Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk. Her debut novel is available on Amazon. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at her website and/or on Facebook.