Guilt vs. Shame and why every Christian should know the difference

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Cliff Notes Version!

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And now, little children, abide in him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming. – 1 John 2:28 ESV

The most destructive aspect of sin is not simply the act of sin itself but often the shame that accompanies it.

Shame entices us to believe that we have not just failed but are in fact failures. It calls to us to accept we are loved but not fully loved and that even in the smallest of ways we must fix ourselves in order to be made whole. Our sin does not hide God from us but causes us to hide from God and cover ourselves when He calls our name out of fear our nakedness will be exposed.

The Lie

Shame is a liar that attempts to extend the inner conflict of sin out to a point where we may believe there is no longer hope. Our loss of hope does not derive out of there actually being no hope but is instead derived out of the silence that comes with abandoning relationship with our Father.

When we sin and run to our Father, He reminds us of His love that’s made known through the most sacrificial token He could give us.

His son.

He Reminds Us Of His Love

He tells us the story of the prodigal son and of the Father who waited patiently and relentlessly for His son to return only to forgive his failures, embrace him, and welcome him home.

The Father reminds us of love and love is the most powerful emotion given to us. Love covers a multitude of sin and remembers no wrongs. It cherishes and builds up. Shame is the demonic linchpin of sin and desires nothing more than to entice away from listening to our Father. It desires for us to doubt what He says about truly loving us as being true.

The Goal of Shame

Shames goal is to encourage us to hide away and work on fixing ourselves and when we accomplish that then return to Our Father cleaner and fitter than before. But, that never happens and in all our doing and trying to become the perfect child we think our Father wants; there is our Father waiting patiently and relentlessly at the gate for a glimpse of us over the road’s crest.

You see, He doesn’t need us to be able to clean ourselves, He did that for us through His son.

Relationship Is At His Heart

What He desires more than anything is the relationship that comes with faith and obedience. Not out of just following a static, lifeless set of rules but the type of faith and relationship that causes us to know the Father’s heart.

The kind of faith and obedience that gives us the confidence to exchange of our innermost fears, doubts, and accomplishments. He wants us to know who He is and how He really feels about us.

Because if we really knew how much He loved us, we wouldn’t believe the call of shame and when we did sin; guilt wouldn’t turn to shame for answers but to Him and His loving grace.

God desires for us to know Him for who He is and not for what shame wants us to think about Him.

Because if we really knew how much He loved us, we wouldn’t believe the call of shame and when we did sin; guilt wouldn’t turn to shame for answers but to Him and His loving grace.
The Road

Guilt is much like a road. It carries our conscience and for the follower of Christ guides us back to the Fathers house; where we find rest, forgiveness, grace, love, and a hot cup of tea.

Shame, on the other hand, is like a detour on that road that promises a shortcut only to leave us feeling lost, confused and farther away from sensing God’s love for us. This detour leads to the inner city of shame where we work tirelessly to fix and gain what the Father has already given to us freely.

Beautiful Grace

The beauty of grace is that it is given to us freely, without cost… But, came at the highest of all costs; God’s son.

So today if you are struggling with shame may you know your Father is waiting patiently and relentlessly to run to your silhouette over the road’s crest. May you give up on your efforts to make yourself clean and run with the legs of a child back to the arms of your Father.

May you see the difference between guilt and shame and may you know God is not out to shame you but to welcome you, redeem your failures and call you family… as many times as it takes for you to believe Him.



B-Points | Cliff Notes Version

1. Guilt And Shame Are Not The Same Thing.

Guilt, for the Christian, is a healthy response to sin. It pulls our conscience to run back to the relationship with Christ. Shame, on the other hand, causes us to sink back attempting to clean/fix the situation and ourselves before running to Christ. Guilt helps us identify where we have failed without us believing we are failures. Shame wants us to believe we are simply failures.

2. God’s Heart Is For Relationship With Us.

What He desires more than anything is the relationship that comes with faith and obedience. Not out of just following a static, lifeless set of rules but the type of faith and relationship that causes us to know the Father’s heart.

If we really knew how much God loved us, we wouldn’t believe the call of shame and when we did sin; guilt wouldn’t turn to shame for answers but to Him and His loving grace. Outside of relationship with Christ we lose our identity in Christ.

3. God Reminds Us Of His Love.

The Father reminds us of love and love is the most powerful emotion given to us. Love covers a multitude of sin and remembers no wrongs. It cherishes and builds up. Shame is the demonic linchpin of sin and desires nothing more than to entice away from listening to our Father. It desires for us to doubt what He says about truly loving us as being true.

4. The Road Of Guilt Leads Us Back To Christ.

Guilt is much like a road. It carries our conscience and for the follower of Christ guides us back to the Fathers house; where we find rest, forgiveness, grace, love, and a hot cup of tea.

Shame, on the other hand, is like a detour on that road that promises a shortcut only to leave us feeling lost, confused and farther away from sensing God’s love for us. This detour leads to the inner city of shame where we work tirelessly to fix and gain what the Father has already given to us freely.