Milk and Honey Magazine - free yourself of your sins and regret - pursue the loving grace of Jesus Christ!

Shedding Shame, Embracing Grace

Jennifer Lockemeyer

It’s a misconception that we need to plumb the depths of our own sin to understand the depth of God’s love and grace. It’s a lie. The love of God was present and inherent in man’s relationship with Him before sin entered the world. He established covenant relationships with his people throughout human history to demonstrate his longing for reconciliation.

Through Jesus’ sacrifice, God sees no debt to be paid or wrongs that we need to make amends for. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,” Paul wrote, “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). God longs for us to be in constant communion with Him and for the Holy Spirit within us to fully align us with his heart. I believe that when we come to Him with a focus on our sin, it hurts Him. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

We cannot accept the life He is offering if we are focused on our own dead parts and past. The healing cannot be complete if we continue to re-open the wound. 

Focusing on Strengths

There’s a school of thought— a corporate philosophy and community development strategy called “Appreciative Inquiry.” This paradigm focuses on improving people and communities by focusing upon what is already working and building upon that. Its premise is centered in positive psychology. Appreciative Inquiry uses positive reinforcement and assessments of strengths rather than weaknesses. Studies show that people tend to shut down when reminded of all the things they have done wrong and need to correct. If they are instead called upon to discuss successes and plan a path forward using past success as a metric, their businesses, communities, and personal well-being thrive. 

I believe the same is true in our relationship with God. Focusing on everything we’ve done to wrong God makes the chasm between our nature and his seem un-crossable. Although we did inherit a sin nature, weren’t we first created in God’s image and blessed as “good?" We remember Romans 3:23: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… .” But we are so quick to forget the following verse (24): “…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” This passage was not intended to highlight the depravity of mankind so much as to glorify the nature of God and to thus give encouragement to the reader. 

Break off old patterns of comparison. Erase all the lists of ways that you cannot measure up to perfection. Legalistic, shame-based strongholds remind us of ways that we have missed the mark. The only way to embrace unity with our father an co-heir Christ is to remember what is already done on our behalf: atonement, redemption, anointing, and blessings.

Transformation of Relationships

God is offering us fullness of life through a relationship with Him and the indwelling of his Spirit. We are depriving ourselves of this fullness by focusing on sin, because we are creating distance between us and Him. Just as Gomer returns to turmoil even after Hosea redeems her in marriage, we scorn God’s sacrifice if we still see ourselves as slaves to sin. We feel like cannot show our face to him, much less praise Him with joy, or ask anything of Him when we still see ourselves as dirty. 

The truth is that God removed our sin from the record because it was a hindrance to our unity with Him. Not only are we pure in his eyes, but we are worthy and capable of knowing Him. 2 Peter 1:2-9 speaks this exact message: 

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and  precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped  the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add  to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self- control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to  mutual  affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever  does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

This is, in essence, a strength-based gospel. The strength of his blood renders us strong in faith and spirit. 

The messages we speak over ourselves have prophetic power. And eventually, the words we speak over ourselves trickle into the way we speak to others. We are the aroma of Christ, so let our fragrance draw others in instead of driving them away (2 Corinthians 2:15). If we condemn them, why would they draw closer? Jesus Himself told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11). Let us be a safe space for others to confess their sin. May our natural response to these admissions be that of our brother Jesus: “God forgives you. Neither do I condemn you.” The ensuing conversation—rooted in grace rather than judgement —should focus on the core of the problem. "What unbelief about yourself or God led you into this sin? What have you learned? How can I help you be strong in the future?” 

When were are standing firm in our understanding of who God is and who he says we are, we are empowered to be pure in mind, body, and actions. Conversely, when we are haunted by our own sin nature, we grow into that garment and wear it constantly. It quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we focus on our brokenness, it only begets hopelessness and resignation. But when we remind ourselves and others of our identity as chosen, beloved, and purified sons and daughters, we have hope and incentive to live righteously. We are not our actions, we are our anointing and birthright: the redeemed.

Encouraging Songs: 

Often, the Spirit seals what we learn in the word through praise and worship. Let these songs give you hope and strength:

Jennifer Lockemeyer is a graduate from Pepperdine University where she majored in Intercultural communications and Creative Writing. She works in Houston as a writer for Living Water International, an organization providing safe water access around the world. She has also worked and volunteered in child advocacy, community development, and anti-human trafficking organizations, driven by the desire to honor the voice of marginalized groups.