The Shame Game
By Wally Odum
Very few of us haven’t had moments when we experienced embarrassment. Guilt is the result of our doing something we don’t think we should have done. Shame results from our not being the person we think we should be. It is shame that undermines how we see ourselves.
We know that the Bible offers the solution to guilt. It is forgiveness. But, does the Bible offer a solution to shame?
One story that strikes at the heart of the problem of shame is the account of the life of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, King David’s celebrated friend. He was also the grandson of King Saul. His name contained the root Hebrew word bosh, which means shame. The full name means “One who destroys shame.” However, when you look at Mephibosheth’s life it is clear that “shame” was not destroyed. His triumph over shame is the encouragement we find in his story.
The story of Mephibosheth is that of a young man who faced shame and the grace that changed his life. These are the facts of Mephibosheth’s situation that lead us to conclude that he suffered from shame. Physically he was crippled in both feet while still a child. His destiny was aborted by the bad decisions of his grandfather, King Saul. He was living in a place called Lo-debar, which means “no pasture” when King David found him. When he was introduced to King David, he referred to himself as a “dead dog.”
His first meeting with King David is described in detail in 2 Samuel 9.
“‘Don’t be afraid,’ David said to him, ‘for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.’ Mephibosheth bowed down and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?’ ” (verses 7-8).
That conversation revealed both the generosity of King David and the damage that had been done to the way Mephibosheth viewed himself.
He had been crippled in both feet as a child when an adult dropped him. It was more than a physical inconvenience. He lost his independence. For the rest of his life he would be at the mercy of others. His grandfather had spoiled his future and he had suffered materially. Though his grandfather had been a king and wealthy, he was left without an inheritance. He was dependent on the generosity of others. All that led to his describing himself as a “dead dog.”
Everyone wants to be valued. That’s why recognition is so important to us. The application of the story of Mephibosheth is true for all of us. We don’t earn God’s favor because of the good things we have done. We aren’t treated as part of God’s family because of our merits. Maybe we were crippled when He found us. That doesn’t matter. Maybe we were living in Lo-debar, a dry place. We may not have liked what we saw when we looked in the mirror. That doesn’t matter, either. I suspect that all of us were mishandled by someone before He found us. All that we have as God’s children is because of Jesus. For His sake, the Father has honored us. We have access to God’s table because Jesus has provided a place there by His generosity.
The most famous verse in the Bible describes how much God values us for Jesus’ sake:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
None of us can come to God based on our own merits. We might as well bring Him Monopoly money. What we have to offer isn’t nearly enough. God, because of Jesus, gives us value. He restores what we have lost and brings us into His family. That is grace. We aren’t “dead dogs” anymore. We eat at the King’s table.
© Wally Odum 2011, used with permission.
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Pastor Wally Odum has been in ministry for 30 years and loves to share the Gospel. He brings a relevant, inspirational approach to the Bible. Wally values relevance, but he also values authenticity. His goal is to make Biblical truth relevant to the lives of all who hear him. Visit Wally Odum's Website - www.wallyodum.com.
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