Key Verse:
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV

Our shame

Why do we become so ashamed when we come before the Lord’s presence?  Ashamed: embarrassed or guilty because of one’s actions or characteristics; fear of embarrassment or humiliation.  Are we embarrassed when we come to the Lord?  Embarrassed of how we act or who we are?

This subject is one that I am very familiar with because I too have been downright embarrassed of some of the things I have done or even thought.  This is a subject that many bring to me when they begin talking about their spirituality.  They will say: “Preacher, I wish I had your faith but I am too embarrassed (ashamed) to go to God like you do.”  Have you ever been in those shoes before?

I have grown in my faith, and in my spirit, so the shame I once had is not so much there anymore.  I can’t tell you how often I have heard someone say: “I am bad, and I feel bad about going to God being the person that I am.”  Is there anything wrong with being ashamed to face God is what I am typically left asking myself nowadays.  Personally, I feel it is natural for the created to fear the Maker; I feel that this reaction is actually the first step in one’s spiritual journey.

Being ashamed of your sin is at least acknowledgment of one’s sinHow we handle that acknowledgment then sets us off on our spiritual journey.  You see, it is a good thing when you realize that you’re a sinner, and know that you must go to the Lord about that sinful way!  You should never feel like you are the only sinner to ever walk this world because the Apostle Paul said (Romans 3:23), “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

However, our sins are not pretty, are they?  In fact, our sins can be very humiliating – that is why we try to tuck them away into our closets.  You know how you do/feel when you have a terrible secret that you don’t want anybody to find out – we try to hide our sins.  The only problem is that we know the Lord is omniscient; knows everything – so we end up always feeling guilty (ashamed).  How do we handle this shame?  What are we to do about this?

The sin and forgiveness of Israel

Today’s key verse comes from the book of Nehemiah, and follows the forgiving of Israel.  For better understanding of today’s scripture, I would advise a study of both the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Both books follow the Israelites post Babylon captivity and return to Jerusalem.

Israel was brought of Egypt and into the Promise Land of Canaan, as we are all very familiar with.  However, the story of the Israelites does not end there.  They had a time of kings which began with King Saul and then King David.  The Lord commanded both men to keep to His commandments and ways, and so long as this was done, they would prosper in the land.  This same command was passed down to David’s son, Solomon, but only David was able to follow after this command.

Solomon turned from the Lord, and it was through his sin that the kingdom was divided into a northern and southern kingdom.  Solomon’s sin led to his son following in his way along with several other kings of the northern kingdom; this led the people, Israel, into great sin and eventually led to their conquering.  Understand this, the people had turned from the Lord and turning from the Lord to worship after other gods is a great sin.

Yet the Lord still loved the children of Israel; He allowed them to return to Jerusalem from Babylon – this was forgiveness.  The people returned to Jerusalem and had a revival in wanting to know God’s Law and word.  Ezra, the Levites, and priests began to teach the Law to the people, and the people suddenly became sorrowful (ashamed) of how they had acted – does this sound familiar?

We hear about how good God is to us, how He forgives us, and how He loves us still and then suddenly we become ashamed because we know that we don’t deserve such love!  Yet, our key verse says: “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  God tells us not to be sad, not to be ashamed, but be filled with joy!

I am thankful that God is that way!  God is a forgiving God that put up with Israel’s great sin of worshipping idols – notice that He forgave them of a great sin.  In all of your sin, you think your sins are too great for the Lord to forgive?  God would not have sent His only begotten Son to be a sacrifice for your sins if He did not want to forgive you of your crimes against Him.

Don’t be ashamed!

Why be ashamed to come to the Lord?  God already knows your sin anyway; so it is not like you are telling the Lord something that He does not already know.  David said (Psalms 139:2), “you (God) know my downsitting and my uprising, you know my thoughts far off.”  David was telling God, you already know who I am and what I am about, and what me come to terms with understanding that the Lord knows who we are.

We may be able to hide things from those around us, but there is simply no hiding anything from the Lord.  Adam, when he sinned his sin in the garden, tried to hide from the Lord’s presence.  To us, that may sound foolish, but Adam thought he could hide from a God who is not only omniscient but is also omnipresent.  Adam found out that he was naked and so, in embarrassment, he tried to hide his nakedness from the Lord.

Here we are today, still trying to hide our nakedness from the Lord when He already knows everything there is to know about you.  What I have come to realize is that there is nothing wrong with being ashamed, but choosing to still go to the Lord anyway.  Some will say: Preacher, it takes courage to be able to go to the Lord like that.  My response: scripture says to be of good courage!

There are many people today who choose to live in their embarrassment (their sin).  Some choose to do so happily and this is very foolish of them and will end in their destruction.  There are many others who allow their fear of going to the Lord defeat them.  We, as good stewards of the faith, I feel, are obligated to help others with conquering their shame (their fear of going to God).  While the Lord is Almighty, He is also a very welcoming God and we should help others feel welcome to go to God.  Too often I see many Christians shaming others in their sins, and leave them out to dry – that is not right!  We should help those that are weak in the faith!

There is nothing wrong with fearing the Lord, but don’t be so afraid that you do not go to Him.  In Isaiah 43:1, we see the Lord say, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; called you by your name” – God, once again, already knows who you are, don’t be ashamed!  God loves you – don’t be ashamed!  We, who fear the Lord but aren’t ashamed, should help those that are ashamed grow beyond their fear or guilt.  No reason to be ashamed.

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