Shame is a devious emotion. It whispers that you don’t measure up. It burrows deep in your soul and convinces you that you’re flawed, inferior, hopelessly damaged.
The evil one loves to put us in the prison of shame and stop us from truly believing what it means to be redeemed and restored. Because we hold on to our sense of inadequacy, we decline to testify to God’s love. Maybe you know you’re forgiven by Jesus’ saving work on the cross. But because of your past you don’t feel qualified to tell people about Him. You shut up instead of share.
We all have felt shame at some point in our lives. Often we deal with it by hiding it or by numbing ourselves. That’s not in Jesus’ game plan: He brings it out into the open and transforms it—so that we can testify to His love and grace.
Think of the Apostle Peter. Peter was one of Jesus’ three closest companions. Yet on the night of Jesus’s arrest, Peter denied even knowing Him. Not just once but three times!
Peter had failed his Lord, and he was deeply ashamed. What did Jesus do in response?
After His resurrection, Jesus visited His disciples numerous times. In John 21, He appeared to Peter and a few other disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, which, by the way, was the very location where three years prior, Jesus had initially called Peter (and his brother Andrew) to come follow Him.
On this early morning, it’s deja vu all over again. The disciples had gone out fishing one night, as they had on that earlier night before they met Jesus. They had returned to shore with empty nets, failing to catch one fish—just as they had that first night. Then Jesus performed a miracle of 153 large fish, as He had three years ago, and the men recognized their risen Lord and nearly fell overboard with joy.
That’s the set-up to the dialogue Jesus has with Peter, also called Simon Peter. Oh, one other thing. Jesus had started a charcoal fire on which to cook the disciples breakfast. What might Peter have recalled looking at that blazing charcoal? One of his betrayals was while standing around a fire like this one.
Did he notice the reminder of his sin? We can’t know but my guess is yes. Maybe Peter was even dreading a one-on-one with the divine Friend he had denied. Yet, Jesus gently led him into a truthful but grace-filled conversation.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)
Jesus goes on to not condemn but to ask three questions and give three commands. Three: the same number of times Peter denied the Lord. Each command is a commission that says, “I have a job for you. You qualify. You’re not a loser. I trust you.”
If you’re still behind shame’s prison bars, God wants to free you and restore you toward serving Him. He’ll meet you where you are, with both grace and truth. He’ll gently demand that you face the truth about yourself.
And He’ll counter your shame by affirming your worth as he sends you out into the world to testify to His love.
Let Him free you today!
To learn more of what the Bible says about letting go of shame and becoming more like Jesus, view our Jesus Unfiltered Series Resources.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip