Scorning shame for joy

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:2

“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed nor be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth and will remember the reproach of your widowhood no more.” — Isaiah 54:4

It may seem we’ve landed in a world without shame. Couples are no longer ashamed to live together without being married; women are no longer ashamed to bear children out of wedlock, and so on. I have heard people say we could use a little more shame in our society today.

Be that as it may, many people suffer private shame over little things. Some may be ashamed of not having money to buy the latest status symbol. Others might be ashamed at not going to college, or going to college and not being able to find work. Still others may be ashamed by reminders of past failures or dumb things they did or said some time in the past.

Shame can be a good thing if it leads to repentance and causes someone to return to God. Often, it just leads to another circuit on an emotional roller coaster. At worst, it can keep people from seeking God for fear of suffering even greater shame at his hands.

Isaiah assures such a person not to fear. God will not put anyone to shame who comes to him. What’s more, he will cause people to forget past mistakes and youthful indiscretions, as well as any shame over circumstances they can’t control.

Jesus shows us even more. He never sinned. He had nothing in his life to be ashamed of, yet he willingly experienced execution as a common criminal, including being beaten, mocked, and even stripped of this clothing. He knew shame for the first time in his life, but scorned it because his eyes were on the joy promised upon his resurrection.

Isaiah says not to be afraid. The writer of Hebrews explains how: keep an eye on Jesus. We, too, have a promise of joy. We, too, can look forward to better things than whatever causes us shame. The more we know him, the more we keep him in mind, the better we can shake off fear, scorn shame, and exercise faith in the joy to be revealed.

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