Posted by George Morrison

Guilt and Shame             Word on the Week                     1st October 2022.

Like the proverbial albatross around one’s neck, guilt and shame stick like glue.  It is easy to identify with the plaintive cry of despair, which is the strapline to this week’s searching question – “Will I ever be good enough”?

Many religions have arrangements which facilitate the temporary expurgating of guilt and shame.   These normally consist of a work of a religious nature to act as an antidote.     The idea being to erase the blots from life’s copybook and restore relationships with one’s God.

Biblical warrant for such behaviour is scant.   But the idea of being able to clean up one’s act is not easily removed.   From the earliest days we get the idea that being good will cancel out the bad.   If it was possible you would still have the problem that you do not know when you have done enough.   You don’t get a balance sheet!

The idea has gained a little credence from the miracle at Belshazzar’s feast when a hand wrote on the palace wall.   Daniel interpreted the words to read, “you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting” (Daniel Chapter 5 verses 26 to 28).   The idea of one’s goodness tipping the imaginary balance   in their favour is tempered by the killing of Belshazzar that night!   

If any are not persuaded and believe “there is some good in all of us” and that this supposed good must count for something the writer to Romans dispels that notion!   The all-encompassing words of Chapter 3 verse 23 “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” present the unpalatable truth.   We can only deliver short measure.   We are not capable of anything else!   We will never be good enough!

We have all been guilty of looking in the wrong place.   Unless our shame and guilt are borne by another we will take them to the grave.   The albatross remains in place.   

However, if by faith the albatross of my guilt and shame is seen to be taken by Jesus on the cross – His death becomes personal and I am forgiven (Isaiah Chapter 53 verses 8 to 11).   As the hymn writer puts it…

You Laid Aside, Your Majesty,
Gave Up Everything For Me.
Suffered At The Hands
Of Those You Had Created.

You Took All My Guilt And Shame,
When You Died And Rose Again.
Now Today You Reign,
In Heaven And Earth Exalted.         

And because He lives all who believe in Him will live eternally (St John Chapter 10 Verse 28)