Lazy. This is the name I’ve been calling myself recently. It’s interesting how much of the conversation in my mind is truth. It’s true that I’m resting more often than I used to. It’s true that I am taking naps. It’s true some things I normally get done aren’t getting done. It’s even true that others are having to pitch in to do the things I cannot. I tell myself these truths as if they are accusations. The harshness in my tone alone is enough to cause anyone to cower.
Today is the last post in our discussion about shame. I mentioned a few things about shame on Monday, but today I want to dig a little deeper. I want to show you the connection between truth and shame.
On Monday I asked you to be mindful of your thoughts this week. Did you find yourself speaking kindly to yourself? Did you find yourself holding unreasonable expectations over your own head? Did you simply find yourself being a bully to yourself? Whatever you found, set it to the side for just a moment while we connect a few dots.
Here’s an important fact about shame: Shame is a highly effective tool of our enemy which he uses to demobilize us from living the life God has called us to live by rooting his lies in truth.
Let’s consider the account of creation for a moment. God creates an entire world and everything in it. He gives his creation to man and says, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:16-17
Did you know the last word in chapter two is shame? Here’s what it says: “Adam and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.” Genesis 2:25
They felt no shame! Did you get that? They were simply living and enjoying the life God had given to them. But Satan would not have them living in such freedom, so he makes an attempt at enslaving them with shame. Here’s what the serpent says to Eve: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
Look carefully at this statement; two tiny words have changed the entire meaning. God said you are free to eat from any… Satan said you must not eat from any. This difference is blaringly clear to us on this side of the story, but for Eve in that moment, the question was grounded in truth enough that she was hooked. Shame will always mimic truth, but it will never be quite the same, and often times shame will include an omission of parts of the truth. In Eve’s case, the serpent had used both of these tactics. If you don’t know how the story ends, I’ll encourage you to read the rest of chapter 3. This is such an important story in the foundations of our faith.
For now though let’s consider another scripture where Satan attempts to twist the words of God. Matthew tells us in his account of Jesus’ life that Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Mt 4:1 When Satan shows up on the scene, Jesus is famished. He has fasted for 40 days. Here’s what Satan says, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Mt 4:3
Do you see the truth that Satan uses against Jesus? …you are the Son of God… Why yes, indeed He is! Now notice how Jesus responds in verse 4. “It is written; ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes form the mouth of God.'” Jesus combats Satan’s lies with his knowledge of the word of God.
This post is entitled Raise Up Your Weapons. The first weapon I want to point out to you is the word of God. Friends, when you and I are so immersed in the living word of God that it becomes a lifeline to us, Satan has to become very crafty to use God’s words against us. The more we study and read God’s word, the more quickly we are able to recognize any deviation from His word, no matter how small they are.
If you continue to read the account of Jesus being tempted, you find that Satan tempts Jesus three times. Each time, Jesus wields his knowledge of God’s word against the lies of Satan.
If we look back at the story of creation, we would see that Eve knows God’s word as well. She responds to Satan’s hook by repeating what God had said. Why then isn’t she victorious as Jesus was? Let’s look carefully at what God says about man in chapter 2: “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
Where was Adam when Eve was speaking to the serpent? We know from other passages in the Bible that Adam was probably close by, but he wasn’t engaged in the conversation. Eve never consulted Adam. She was consumed by the serpent because she attempted to combat him alone. Friends, shame is a powerful tool against us, and the second weapon we have is other believers. We cannot attempt to battle shame alone. If we want to be victorious in our battles with shame, we must invite others to battle with us. Remember when I said our enemy will use shame to demobilize us from living the life God has called us to live? The life God has called us to, is a life in connection to other people. It is not good for us to be alone, but shame will isolate us from both people and God. The moment Adam and Eve took a bite of the apple, they were aware that they were naked, they felt ashamed, and they hid from God.
I told you I’ve been calling myself lazy. I told you all the truths I’ve used to accuse myself. Here’s the truth I omitted. I’ve been struggling with anemia. My body is in desperate need of the rest that I’ve been taking. When I begin to feel guilty or ashamed for that rest, it is because I allow myself to focus on only part of the truth. The part that is what I’m not doing. The whole truth is that I need to do less in order to give my body a chance to heal.
Remember those thoughts you took notice of this week? Can you identify any places in your live where you are omitting truths that would balance out the truths you are accusing yourself with? Are there places where you simply don’t know what God’s word says about your struggle? Maybe you do know what God’s word says, but you need some accountability to walk in truth or some prayer to really believe the truth of God’s word.
Maybe you found that you don’t have a struggle with shame. You are usually a rather kind person to yourself. If that’s you, could you consider doing battle with another person who is struggling with shame? Pray for them and encourage them with God’s word.
My I pray for you now?
We know that you are a God of truth and it is your desire that we would live our lives in the freedom of that truth. We know that Satan is crafty and he desires to twist your truth just enough that we would be in bondage to shame. Today we ask that you open our hearts and minds to the knowledge and understanding of your word. Strengthen our faith to believe your word so we may stand firmly as Jesus did. Father would you surround us with Christian friends and family who will battle with us against the lies Satan whispers to our hearts? Would you please give us the humility to share our struggles and ask for help? God we love you only because you loved us first. We praise you and we thank you. In Jesus name. Amen.
One last thing before we leave each other today. God made you. When you speak against yourself, you are speaking against His creation. You are speaking against Him. Even if your words are never spoken aloud, God knows them. It may be that today the first weapon you need to raise is acceptance of who you are. If that’s so you may also need to ask for His forgiveness for the harshness you have had towards his creation. Can I pray for those of you who are in this space as well.
We know that you have called your creation very good. We know that you have loved all of your creation. We confess there are times when we have not loved all of your creation. There are even times when we have hated your creation or questioned your purposes and intent when you created our inner most being. Father, forgive us and cleanse us. Would you place in our hearts a deep understanding of our value and worth? Help us to have hearts of gratitude for all that you have created, including ourselves. Amen.