April 10, 2017 by Kgalalelo
God astounds me all the time and I realise that understanding His magnificence would take me a life time.
I was doing a study on the origins of shame; what it means and why we feel shameful all the time whenever things happen in our lives and what we can do to alleviate it and realised that as much as God didn’t give us the spirit of fear and timidity according to 2 Timothy 1:7, He never gave the spirit of shame either and whenever we feel shameful and fearful, He shields and protect us.
From a biblical point of view, shame came as a result of the fall from grace. Prior to Adam and Eve eating of the fruit of good and evil that God commanded them not to eat, in order to avoid death, man was never shameful of anything. He was covered with the glory of God.
The words that describes shame includes embarrassment, pity, humiliation, discomfort, regret, guilt, remorse, self-reproach or blame. When Adam and Eve did eat of the fruit of good and evil, the Bible elucidates that when they heard God coming they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord amongst the trees of garden. God called on to Adam and when he responded he said “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. Where the glory of God is, there can never be any shame.
When consciousness came to Adam and Eve, the first thing they observed was their nakedness. This can be explained both metaphorically and spiritually. They were without physical clothing as well as the glory of God from a spiritual context and the worst kind of nakedness is not being clothed with the presence of God. It should have been gloomy for them at that time because without the presence, you are literally in the dark. The presence or the glory of God illuminates, protects and keeps you satiated. It provides food for the soul. Jesus said “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (John 4:32 NIV). He was always filled and full of the glory of God. The glory feeds you, mind, body and spirit and therefore you lack nothing because God shepherds you.
God is merciful and kind, even when Adam and Eve went astray, He sowed tunics of skin and clothed them to cover their nakedness. He demonstrated His love regardless of man’s unfaithfulness. In Genesis 4, we read yet another story of Cain and his brother Abel. Cain rose up against Abel and killed him in the field as he was jealous of Abel’s offering that was accepted and respected by the Lord. Abel was a shepherd whereas Cain was the tiller of the ground and when both brought sacrifices of their labour to the Lord, God respected Abel and his offering and not Cain’s resulting in Cain killing his own brother.
We learn in the Bible that when God confronted Cain about the matter and punished him, God removed him also from His presence and Cain was afraid that if he was removed from the face of God, he would be killed but God heard his cry and protected him. He decreed that whoever would kill Cain vengeance would be taken on him sevenfold and so set a mark on him lest anyone who found him should kill him. Despite the shame of Cain’s action, God was merciful.
God demonstrated mercy unto humans when He asked Noah to build an ark and take his family along and a pair of every creature along into the ark. He could have destroyed every living thing in the face of the earth but He took for Himself a handful of people to ensure the existence and continuation of the human race. After the flood God was full of remorse and He promised to never destroy the earth with the flood. He said according to the Bible “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done” (Genesis 8:21). Humanity has always been in God’s heart for eons despite the repeated shameful acts.
Furthermore, God took out the children of Israel from Egypt following the cries of their hearts as a result of the hard labour they were suffering in the foreign land. He fed them with manna and quail when they complained about a lack of food to eat in the wilderness and gave them water to drink when the wells were nowhere to be found. He could have left them to be eaten by the wild animals or destroyed them Himself because of their constant moaning but His mercy endures forever. He protected them and gave them all that was necessary for their journey. They worshipped idols along the way and despite their shameful deeds, God ensured that they reached the Promised Land.
He gave them the land of milk and honey, Canaan, and said unto them, “I have given you a land for which you did not labour, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.” (Joshua 23:13 NKJV). Still the Israelites continued to disobey God and didn’t serve the Lord wholeheartedly and yet He continued to protect and provide for them and helped them destroy giants. Shame doesn’t prevent God from being God, it is no measure of His goodness. He continues to show mercy over His own creation.
There are many such accounts and the greatest gift of God’s mercifulness in the New Testament is sending His own begotten son, Jesus Christ to redeem and save us from our sins. He became the sacrifice for all humanity and His offering was simple and that was to believe in Him and His ministry, the ministry of grace. Jesus’ sales pitch was contained in the five letter word, ‘grace’. This was the summary of His ministry on earth and He did it for us. He offered us a free gift for our own benefit and many received it while others refused the offer and preferred the difficult road which is still the case today.
God gave us Jesus as a demonstration of his everlasting love and mercy. He doesn’t wish for any of us to perish and He displays His mercy and goodness over and over again. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 2:22-23 ESV).
We often harden our hearts from the call of the Lord that we proclaim to believe in. The very short ministry of Jesus that lasted only three years is loaded with unconditional love of God for the people. He displayed His mercy right from the beginning of life itself and even after 2000 years since Jesus ascended to heaven, we still enjoy the mercy and grace that is given us freely without any effort from our side.
There are hundreds of people on earth today who have escaped death, who have overcome heinous things, who experienced supernatural provision and still do, who enjoys perfect divine health and have wonderful relationships despite the things they have done and this is because God is merciful. He invites everyone to come to Him despite circumstances and all kinds of occurrences. Jesus said “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11: 28-30 NKJV).
Hear the call of the Lord today and relish in His mercy and goodness. Leave shame behind as God views not with the human eye. He knows you better than you know yourself and more so, better than others know you. He washes the shame away and cleanses you whiter than snow. It doesn’t matter what you have done, He is faithful, when you are not. He is faithful, when others are not; He loves without condition; He cares and understands without judgement.
Be grateful for God’s mercy and receive it, look at the many instances in your life where God has been merciful to you and rejoice knowing that every morning, you have a fresh supply of mercy. Use your daily supply and run to God when you feel shameful about anything. He surely can lift the shame up and restore you to the person He wants you to be, that is the whole exercise, to return us into the glory we enjoyed in the beginning. Amen and Amen!
Footnote: Scriptures taken from the The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1982: Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, Inc. & The ESV Global Study Bible®, ESV® Bible, Copyright © 2012 by Crossway. All rights reserved & The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Kgalalelo Saane Mphephuka
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