2 Corinthians 4:1-4

Shame is such a powerful but useless emotion. Most of us feel it from some past transgression and it burns the heart and tears at the soul. Did we hit our sister, humiliate a co-worker or wet our bed? Maybe we stole a wallet or jumped the subway turnstile. Did we buy drugs or drink too much and wreck the car? Maybe we ignored a barefoot homeless woman on Fifth Avenue begging for a dollar or rejected a family member reaching for a lifeline. Felony or misdemeanor or civil slight: the size of the crime rarely matters. The pain of shame is mostly the same. 

And it’s not just self-inflicted. Shaming is now a verb. We sit at our keyboards and watch it appear on Facebook and Twitter. Cut off on the highway? Want petty revenge? No problem. Tweet it. Within minutes, perfect strangers pile on. It doesn’t matter that the driver was suffering from low blood sugar or rushing to his mother’s hospital bed. Politicians pillory youngsters or the weak and infirm. Use the wrong word choice? The crowd will correct you quickly and brutally.

Most often, the shaming is crueler and ruder that the original slight. No time for facts or truth. No room for forgiveness or mercy. Only time to judge. I feel pain sometimes watching humans turn on each other for the smallest blunder, consumed by bitterness and insulated from the impact of their wounds by the airwaves. Merciless. Unconscionable.

This passage reminds me that God is watching. Our task is to lift the veil and find the light. We need to take our cues from God and those people who work in God’s image and share God’s grace. Consciously quiet the voices of those consumed by shame and rage. Do not lose heart.


When have you shamed another, even without meaning to do so?


Lord, help me share your gospel and your grace through my deeds and my words, free of judgment. Amen.

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