Behind the curtains, I noticed a 3-foot-tall human silhouette with a pair of toddler-size shoes peeking out from below. A rule had been broken in our home, and the responsible party was attempting to hide. He was not the first guilty human to use this ineffective tactic. Adam and Eve did the same thing in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:10). Like my child, and Adam and Eve, we have all experienced moments of guilt and shame.
Guilt about what we’ve done can be productive and lead us to repentance, but shame is self-judgment about who we are. Like a funhouse mirror, together they can give us a distorted view of our value. When we focus on our guilt and shame, we are focused on self and not on God. That’s right where our cunning adversary wants us to be, immobilized, and unaware of our true identity as God’s child.
The truth is that we are deeply loved by God and forgiven of our sins. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream and counseled him to take Mary as his wife, that she would “give birth to a son”, and he should “give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Thanks to that little baby born over 2000 years ago, who was both fully human and fully divine, we no longer need to hide behind the curtains of guilt and shame. We have a sinless Savior who sacrificed Himself, covering the penalty of our sins. We can be confident that we are fully, completely, and totally forgiven (2 Corinthians 5:21).
During this season of Advent, let’s check the hidden places in our hearts. Let’s agree to pull back the curtains of guilt and shame and expose ourselves to the light of “the Son.” There we find an accurate reflection of ourselves as God’s children, lavishly immersed in love and forgiveness.
Is there something in your past that Satan keeps using to evoke guilt and shame? Consider replacing these thoughts with promises of hope found in God’s Word (Hebrews 10:19-23).
Advent reminds us that Christ has come to break the power of sin which distorts and destroys us by enslaving us to guilt and shame. The babe of Bethlehem gives us true hope for freedom.