Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from February 8 to 14 are co-written by the AMI Teaching Pastor Ryun Chang (Ph.D.) and Joshua Chang, a graduate of Swarthmore College and currently a student at Yale Divinity School. They are taking a break from the study of Acts.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Theologian Jack Deere, who lost both his father and son to suicide, wrote, “Time does not heal shame. Shame will not go away by itself. It might be hidden for a little while but sooner or later, it comes back. . . . It’s always there and it tells you this: ‘You know, if these people really knew what you were like, they wouldn’t even want you in this room.’ And because you’ve got this gaping hole you can’t share with anyone, you feel so lonely in the room and like you really need to keep this secret.”
Philosopher Avishai Margalit describes guilt as that reaction when we view ourselves from the eyes of our inner conscience, making us pale, and shame as that emotion when we view ourselves from the eyes of the other, making us blush. In any case, the two serve as a devastating duo in our psyche: they can make us feel dirty, hypocritical, secretive, alone, burdened, despairing. They are the sorrowful children of our aspirations towards the highest moral ideals coupled with the wretchedness of our fallen, sinful selves. While other tortures may come from external forces, the torture of guilt and shame can be an especially painful assault as it comes from within. I once heard a young man, who had actually overcome his sin of masturbating to pornography, confess, “I don’t know which is harder: stopping porn or dealing with the guilt that I’ve had since stopping.”
It seems to me that some guilt and shame is actually good for a person, guiding him toward the right direction. They are a bit like the appearance of fats and sugars at the top of the food pyramid: a little bit can actually be beneficial for the body, but large quantities are destructive, a lifestyle God does not want us to live. I am reminded of Peter who showed a distinct weakness for cowardice, vehemently betraying Jesus at his last hour. What shame and guilt he must have experienced! Yet our merciful Lord, after His resurrection, renews His friendship with Peter and entrusts to him again the ministry of apostleship that Peter was always meant for (John 21).
God always loves. God always forgives. Let us never waver from the path of repentance. Let us understand that no matter the secrets people find out about us, no matter the pangs of guilt that haunt us (whether we are alone in bed or worshipping on Sunday), God is with us and He will forgive and He will one day give us the perfect life we so desire, free from failure, guilt, shame, and sorrow. Let us find freedom by confessing our sins and holding firm in our minds to the promises of God for us. That’s why He is the God of grace: He loves us no matter our secret shames and self-hating guilt. We will endure and overcome through Christ. God is with us!
Great is they faithfulness, O God, to me despite who I really am from within. Up on that cross, Christ not only paid for the penalty of my sin but also the guilt and shame that came with it. Thank You for imputing your Son’s righteousness on me so that I am no longer condemned (Rom. 12:1).
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 42-43