There’s lots of talk today about the need for a vaccine for coronavirus. It is a serious disease and I hope a vaccine is discovered soon. But I’m more concerned about two much more destructive viruses: shame and pride. These spiritual viruses are far more pervasive, insidious, and deadly. They infect almost every act that stirs moral outrage today, but no task force has been formed. Science isn’t racing for a cure. If there was a test for shame and pride, most of us would be in lockdown. But there is a potent cure: God’s love.
God’s love heals your shame
God’s love for you in Jesus Christ heals your shame. Your shame is founded in the real guilt you have as a son or daughter of Adam and Eve, the stain of original sin. Until your guilt is dealt with, there is no possible way to cleanse the defilement of shame. This is, of course, precisely what God’s love for us through Jesus does. God once and for all addressed your guilt. Yes, you are an inheritor of Adam’s sin. Yes, you are a sinner at the core. And yet, at the very same time God says, “I love you and sent my Son into the world to save you from your sins. My beloved Son, Jesus, died on the cross in your place, He took upon himself your guilt. When you place your trust in him, you are no longer condemned. I cover you with Jesus’ righteousness. You are holy and blameless in my sight.” Don’t you see? Even though you are a sinner and unworthy, you are loved by your Heavenly Father. He loved you before the creation of the world. And he is permanently committed to you. He adopted you into his family and gave you his name. He clothes you in Jesus’ beauty; you are clean, spotless, holy before God. You are loved by the only one in the universe whose opinion of you matters. He delights in you. He is crafting you to be a masterpiece for his glory. The message of God’s love for you in Jesus deals with the underlying issue of guilt. It is the only cleansing potent enough to eradicate the fact of your guilt and wash away the pollution of your shame.
Let me speak personally to you. You may feel unlovable, unwanted, even defiled. But God’s love can heal you. It reveals your shame as untruth. You are God’s treasured possession, irrevocably loved by God. Your Heavenly Father delights in YOU, with all the baggage you bring. Accept God’s love. Come trembling out of the dark, into the light. Share the specific ways you have fallen short. God already knows them and still loves you. God’s love is everlasting. It sets you free from the need to immediately get it all right. He will complete the work of transforming you into your unique expression of the beauty of Jesus. Make God’s love the lens by which you see yourself, not shame. His love validates you. Defines you. Encircles you. Bask in it. Let its balm heal the sores of your shame, wash away your pollutions, scrub clean your defilements. Lift up your head with confidence and joy. You are God’s never-ending delight. He not only loves you, he likes you.
God’s love humbles your pride
God’s love is also a power able to destroy your pride. It attacks pride at its root. How does it do so? It brings you to the foot of the cross. The cross is God’s final word on who you are. You are so wicked, so uniquely depraved and so impotent to save yourself that it took the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of the Son of God to rescue you. You are lost. You need a Savior. The cross is also the demonstration of God’s unconditional love. God does not love you because you are beautiful, moral or worthy. You are not. You are unworthy, depraved, broken. He loves you not based on your merit, for you have none, but freely, of his own gracious will. God’s love crushes all boasting. Salvation is of God, not you! If there was some distinguishing merit in you that made you worthy of God’s love, then you could boast. But salvation is by grace. It comes to you as gift. It is received, not earned.
By God’s love, your pride is brought low, and boasting silenced. When God’s unmerited, undeserved, and unconditional love is accepted by you, the back of pride is broken. At the foot of the cross, where God demonstrated once and for all His gracious love for sinners, you are humbled. You confess that you are a sinner rightly deserving the wrath of God. At the foot of the cross, you feel God’s love in the most powerful way. You taste the forgiveness of sins, are adopted into God’s family and receive the gift of the Spirit. Held in the arms of God’s love, you can let go of your pride. You can rest like a child rests, dependent and happy in the arms of her father.
On the Photographs
I took these photographs of Jackie last week at Mom and Dad’s home. They are part of the series of senior pictures we are taking. I think they turned out great.