Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. —Psalm 32:5
"I can’t find Jordan!” Bethany cried over the phone, pleading for me to join the search for my two-year-old grandson. We combed through the house, over every inch of the yard, desperately calling his name. His five-year-old brother Messi said, “He’s upstairs.” But both my daughter and I had looked upstairs, so we continued the search in the yard. Neighbors came to join us.
Messi kept insisting his little brother was upstairs; to humor him we decided to make one more quick trip upstairs to look. And there was Jordan—oh so quietly standing behind a door. He was covered with his mom’s nail polish. He knew he was in trouble, so he hid.
When the very first act of disobedience happened in the world God had newly created, Adam and Eve had the same reaction as Jordan: they hid themselves. They were guilty, but instead of owning up to their sin, they focused on the lack of covering for their naked bodies—something they hadn’t even noticed before. For the first time, they felt shame.
The shame we feel when we have done wrong is a misdirected response to sin. Shame takes the focus off the wrong we have done and our need for forgiveness, and it directs the focus on our feelings. Shame can keep us from acknowledging, confessing, and repenting (turning away from) sin. We feel bad, but by wallowing in that bad feeling we don’t find the relief of forgiveness. In Psalm 32 David recounts the agony he suffered as he kept thinking of his adulterous sin but failed to confess it and repent. After many sleepless nights, a breakthrough came: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (v.5).
I wonder what would have happened if Adam and Eve had chosen to own up to their disobedience. What if they had chosen to stand naked in their disobedience and confess freely to God, “the Lord [who] is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion”? (Numbers 14:18).
Reflection: Are you living in shame because of disobedience to God? What would it take for you to confess it to God and turn away from it?
Father, I am tired of feeling shame because of my sin. I confess it to you and repent of this disobedience. Thank you for your forgiveness.
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