I love those moments when I open my mouth and God’s words come out. It always surprises me. Yet it always speaks to me too.
I was speaking with a friend this morning on my ride into work. We were talking about how difficult it can be to have a healthy relationship with people we are related to. How easy it is to be and feel attacked by someone who is supposed to care about us.
And in the process of that conversation, God dropped a couple of truth bombs on us.
Our lives are layers of choices.
We carry around all the consequences and all the emotions of our past, dragging them with us into every relationship, every conversation, and every circumstance. And then we run into someone who, usually inadvertently, causes these emotions to rise up and take control of us. And we wallow in the emotions and respond out of them, reacting harshly and rudely and rashly.
And in doing so, we tend to say “shame on you” to people. Shame on you for treating me that way. Shame on you for making me feel that way. Shame on you for not seeing where you are wrong. Shame on you for hurting me. Shame on you for thinking that way. Shame on you for not saying you’re sorry. Shame on you for not loving me more. Shame on you for not being a better person.
But what does this reaction do? Nothing positive. Nothing loving. Nothing hopeful. Responding with a “shame on you” attitude adds another layer of shame on top of the already existing layers of shame, regret, guilt, humiliation, anger, frustration, and depression. It adds a new layer of pain to increase the depth of darkness in someone’s life. It adds a deeper layer of hopelessness to a restless and troubled heart.
And it possibly draws someone away from God and the hope of healing He offers.
Matthew 5: 14-16 says we need to be light. We need to be the beacon of God’s love to all people, especially the most difficult. Because when people see His light radiating in you, through you, and out of you, they will be drawn to Him.
But “shame on you” is not light. It contains no light. It comes from the dark places of a hurting heart and only serves to add more hurt to what already exists. It won’t penetrate, break, or destroy the darkness. It won’t bring any healing. It won’t create any hope. It only adds fuel to a raging fire of self-destruction and self-loathing.
So how can we spread light instead of adding to darkness? Grace. We follow God’s lead of saying “grace on you” to people. Not shame. GRACE.
Because grace brings light to and penetrates the dark places. Because light begins to heal the shame-filled place. Because light adds hope to a self-destructive life.
People need grace. It is the only hope in this lost and confused world. It is the only light in these dark and dreary times. It is the only anchor that uplifts and pulls up instead of weighing down.
Because grace is the gift of a loving Creator, who is called “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10). It is the love that knows us and calls us by name, no matter how lost we are (Exodus 33:17). It is the love that makes us acceptable to God, no matter what current state we are in (Ephesians 1:6). It is the love that brings full forgiveness for every choice, every sin, and every mistake (Ephesians 1:7). It is the love that is abundant and unlimited in every moment, every situation, and every emotion (Ephesians 2:7, 1 Timothy 1:14, James 4:6). It is the love that is available to anyone anywhere at anytime – when we have a humble and yielding heart (Proverbs 3:34).
So with all this truth about grace, why would we choose to say “shame on you” to anyone? Why would we want to curse someone, possibly toward their destruction, when we could instead bless them?
God is saying the better choice is to say “grace on you”. As often as you can. To speak hope, life, encouragement, uplifting, love, and peace to people, on people, and in people. To be the beacon of His love that chooses to bring out and see the good in people. No matter how they treat you. No matter how they speak to you. No matter how they approach you.
Maybe today can be the day we stop saying “shame on you” – and start saying “grace on you”. Maybe today we can start to pray 1 Corinthians 1:3* (Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ) on all the people in our lives and then add a layer of mercy to it (1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, 2 John 1:3). Maybe today we will choose to be more gracious and forgiving with our words and reactions, as Colossians 4:6 commands (Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one).
Today I pray for all the people in my life, whether in fellowship with Jesus or not – “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (2 Thessalonians 3:18^). I pray you feel His love, know His forgiveness, and live in His grace. I pray you choose to be a beacon of light and radiate His grace. I pray you decide to banish shame – on yourself and on others. I pray you choose instead to and bathe in grace – to embrace grace, share grace, and give grace.
No more shame. Only grace. For yourself and for others. Will you start today?
Marie Fremin. 4/29-4/30/16
- Thanks to Robin Jones Gunn for these phrases. She uses them in her “Sisterchicks in Gondolas“ book, and they really resonate within me.
- * Also Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3, 1 Peter 1:2, 2 Peter 1:2, Revelation 1:4
- ^ Also Romans 16:20, Romans 16:24, 1 Corinthians 16:23, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Galatians 6:18, Ephesians 6:24, Philippians 4:23, Colossians 4:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:28, 1 Timothy 6:21, 2 Timothy 4:22, Titus 3:15, Philemon 1:25, Hebrews 13:25, Revelation 22:21