The Plumb Line, by Jennifer LeClaire

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If you don’t like what I write, agree to disagree or speak the truth in love. But don’t pronounce shame on me. If you don’t agree with your pastor’s theology, ask some honest questions in the right spirit or go to another church. But don’t pronounce shame on him. If you don’t like the way your son is behaving, then discipline him. But don’t pronounce shame on him.

Beloved, I see far too many shame pronouncers in the Body of Christ. And it troubles me. Rather than announce what a shame it is, let me rather turn to the Word and educate shame-pronouncers why Jesus doesn’t want us to pronounce shame on one another. Like Paul, I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved brethren I warn you (1 Cor. 4:14).

In other words, I’m not trying to heap shame or condemnation on people who have adopted the habit of pronouncing “shame on you!” when they don’t like what people say or do. I am merely warning you not to use these three words so loosely because your words carry the power of life and death and Jesus suffered death to give us life.

You Are the Righteousness of God in Christ
The Bible says we are the righteousness of God in Christ—and there is no shame in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). The Bible says whoever believes on Jesus will not be put to shame (Rom. 9:33; Rom. 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6). The Bible says I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). We may not like what someone does, but what someone does is not who someone is. So to pronounce shame on a person for taking actions you don’t agree with is, well, a downright shame.

I know this is Christianity 101, but bear with me for a moment. Jesus was punished so we could be forgiven. Jesus was wounded so that we could be healed. Jesus was made sin so that we could become righteous. Jesus died so that we could have life. Jesus was made a curse so that we could be blessed. And Jesus bore our shame so that we could share His glory.

Jesus took our shame to the cross. The writer of Hebrews put it this way: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). When we make a mistake, Jesus wants us to be sorrowful and repent, but He doesn’t want us to carry the reproach of shame. Indeed, there is a spirit called shame that is holding some believers in the bondage of guilt, disgrace and regret even after they’ve asked for forgiveness. This does not glorify God.

Proclaiming the Spirit of Shame
I used to be one of those people—and I remember when the Lord set me free. Ironically, it came hours after a prophet I respected pronounced shame on me and a few other intercessors. The pastor’s house flooded while he was away on vacation and he was angry at the intercessors because he felt he wasn’t being covered appropriately. (He was essentially blaming us for what happened at his house. Blame and shame are running buddies, so where you see one manifest you should look out for the other.)

Of course, the intercessors absolutely were praying for the pastor while he was gone—probably more than he knew. But the elder prophet of the group, who was intimidated by the pastor, led us all in repentance before the Lord for our sin of prayerlessness. I wasn’t in agreement with it, because I knew we had done our duty and the blame did not belong on our shoulders. I was definitely sorry that the pastor’s home flooded and wanted to understand why our prayers didn’t shield him. But repenting for prayerlessness was not appropriate since we had not committed that sin.

Next, the prophet did something that really disturbed me. It sounded something like this, “Lord, send your shame on us to bear for seven days!” I suppose she was working from Numbers 12:14 where the Lord suggested that Miriam should be shamed seven days after she and Aaron spoke against Moses. Perhaps this prophet forgot that Jesus bore our shame.

Bowing Under Shame
Well, the devil took advantage of that prophet’s words. I could literally see the countenance on the faces of the other intercessors as shame descended on the group. She invited the enemy upon us, and we received it. I immediately felt oppressed, embarrassed, like I didn’t even have a right to join the leadership meeting that followed the prayer meeting. I went home, feeling ashamed.

When I got home, the Lord put a spotlight on a book that was in my library; one I had never read. It was “Gods’ Remedy for Rejection” by Derek Prince. There was a chapter called “Betrayal and Shame.” I started reading at about 7 p.m. I read and prayed until about 2 a.m. and the Lord opened my eyes and delivered me from that shame the prophet pronounced.

This was certainly a case of Genesis 50:20. What the enemy meant for evil, God turned to good. God delivered. But what if I had not been as spiritually sensitive to what was happening to me? I’ll tell you what would have happened. When that prophet pronounced shame on us, it would have sent me spiraling downward  into a greater bondage. Again, the Bible says death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21). Beloved, pronouncing shame on the righteousness of God in Christ is not appropriate.

Shame Doesn’t Belong to Us
I’m quite sure I am going to get some hate mail over this column. But that’s OK. There’s no life in pronouncing shame over someone. Shame is a real emotion that we may feel when we do something wrong. But it’s not God’s will for us to walk in shame. If we feel ashamed, we can repent, ask for forgiveness and move on in the grace of God. If we do something shameful, we turn away from it. We can renounce the hidden things of shame (2 Cor. 4:2).

Paul suggested that not sharing Jesus was a shame (1 Cor. 15:34) and that believers going to court was a shame (1 Cor. 6:4-6). He was showing them that the activities were shameful, and not out of a prideful, angry spirit—out of a spirit of love. He wasn’t pronouncing shame on people. He was suggesting that what they did was shameful. As Christians, we may unfortunately do shameful things at times. But we should not receive declarations of shame over our lives. Jesus bore our shame.

What’s more, the shame-pronouncers I see are simply moving in the wrong spirit. Bottom line. Yes, our adversaries will be put to shame, but shame is reserved for those who refuse to accept Christ. Even then, we should not pronounce shame on them. Unbelievers are already judged (John 3:18). He who believes in Jesus will by no means be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6). Amen.

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