We have discovered in previous devotions how the Lord is helping us “Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” God is working in us for His good pleasure. He tells us, “Do all things without murmuring and disputing,” because He is working a divine emptying process in our lives to bring about biblical humility.
The Holy Spirit is not at work to make us weak and spineless, He is at work to reveal Christ in us through meekness and boldness. Society has emasculated manhood. God is not bringing us to weakness, but to be strong through gentleness!
Meekness is not weakness! Meekness is yielded strength under control. I think of the great stallion that has been broken and bridled. He still has the same strength and force, but he can be ridden and his power guided.
In meekness, Jesus was willing to empty Himself and do what the Father had appointed. Jesus chose to empty Himself and be guided only by the Holy Spirit throughout His entire human life. Jesus said, “Father, I will go through this shame and all the failure.” He was willing to die, not in a hospital taking pain medicine, but on the cross in great suffering. It was cruel and humiliating. He took all the shame and all the humiliation for us. He was humiliated so we could succeed. I too must choose to empty myself and be filled with His meekness which will result in strength.
“Meekness is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word humility. It is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect” (Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine pp. 294 from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).
Why not say to the Lord, “Go ahead, Jesus, finish what you started in me.” Whatever our age might be, simply yield to the Lord and allow His strength to work in you mightily. The Lord is meek, but He is strong. Paul learned to walk in the meekness and strength of Christ. It is possible to know both Christ’s gentleness and His great strength as we yield to Him in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Father today to give you both meekness and boldness as you live out your salvation.
Philippians 2:5-7 – Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself.
We must be emptied in order to be filled. Philippians 2 reveals seven areas of Christ Jesus’ attitude about being emptied and allowing His Father to lift Him up through the exaltation of the resurrection. Through the resurrection, Christ is drawing men to Himself. “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die, death on the cross. It is in dying, life is found.
7a – Don’t exalt yourself
7b – Choose to be a servant
8 – Humble yourself through obedience, even to death of self
9 – Let God exalt and lift you up
9 – Let God give you a name that others honor
12 – Obey God in your private life
14 – Be content and don’t murmur or argue
The Lord is bringing about a divine emptying process in our life. He has called us to fully enter into Christ’s life and have His attitude in everything. The Lord Jesus Christ had one desire and that was to fully honor His Father, drawing all the attention to Him. What is our desire? Philippians chapter 2 reveals the example the Lord set for every believer. We are to follow His attitude. “I only want to be exalted in Christ and exalted by Christ.” If you are exalted by anything else, it only draws attention back to you. The world is filled with self-exaltation and honors its own.
Paul leads us from humility to exaltation and an understanding that it is God at work in us for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12). This process starts in us when we confess Jesus as Lord. From that day, we are to serve God’s good pleasure. Christ’s attitude in us will continue all of our life as we choose Jesus’ Lordship in every choice we make.
Father, I choose for You to have Your good pleasure in me. My life is no longer my own, but it belongs to You. Establish in me the attitude of Christ, an attitude of humility and allowing Your Holy Spirit to be the One to exalt me for Your glory and praise.
Philippians 2:5-11 – Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The key to overcoming the flesh is humility. I’m not speaking of a feeling that I am not worthy. Many of God’s people have an attitude of false humility which can generate self-righteousness, pride, and anger that is rooted in shame. Many say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace!” Yes, you were a sinner. Don’t stay there! You were saved by grace. Now be a son of God as He called you to be.
James writes, “Humble yourselves in the sight of God, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). When the Lord lifts us up there is no sense of shame. Shame generates false humility while the grace of God generates a sense of true acceptance. True humility says, “I can do nothing of myself.” If I receive anything, it comes from God! You lift your head and say, “Look what God has made me.” This is biblical humility. Jesus said in John 5, “I can do nothing of myself, only what I see the Father doing.” The Son did a lot, but He did not do things from His own initiation. The proper response when honored by another is to say, “Thank you for your recognition.” Afterwards, deflect the glory and thank God for what He allowed you to do. “Lord, I thank You for working through me.”
When we have a right attitude concerning humility and how God sees us in Christ, faith is generated and this enables us to do exploits for our God. He made us who we are through Jesus Christ. He empowers us to do His will. We acknowledge that we are simply yielded vessels, ready to be used by the Lord for His glory. That kind of attitude leaves no place for shame. Pride and self-will are both bound and we are free to live out what the Lord has made us to be.
Father, cause me to know the difference between false and true humility. Grant me grace to receive all You have done for me. Let the attitude that was in Christ reign in me, that I might be emptied of self and filled with Your holy presence.
Genesis 3:7 – Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked.
Before Adam and Eve sinned and fell from the place of honor the Lord had given to them, they knew nothing of shame. When their eyes were opened they became self-conscious and aware of their uncovered condition. They instinctively felt separated from the love of God. They hid from each other and from God, trying to cover up their shame. It is shame that keeps us from our destiny. The Greek word for shame means nakedness. We are born naked which speaks of our inherent condition.
It took God’s intervention to begin a true process of recovery. Only when Jesus became sin for us could a true recovery of man’s lost and shameful condition become possible. As we receive by faith His substitutionary sacrifice, shame must go because we are now fully accepted in the completeness of Christ.
Jesus demonstrated the Father’s commitment to removing shame when He ministered grace and broke shame in the life of an adulterous woman as recorded in John 8:1-11. Jesus turned the searchlight back on her accusers when He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). I see Jesus’ response as one of the greatest demonstrations of the love of God. Jesus found Himself alone with the woman. Her accusers had all left. Jesus asked her, “Did no one condemn you? She said, ‘No one, Lord’. Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more’” (John 8:10-11).
Jesus broke the shame barrier by emptying Himself. In Philippians 2:5, Paul describes how Jesus totally emptied Himself so He could be shamed for each of us. Our shame was put on the Lord Jesus Christ. If we receive what the Lord has done on the cross, we are free to sin no more just like the woman in John 8.
Jesus overcame shame in both life and death. Jesus was born to die and to rise again. He went from swaddling clothes to grave clothes in order to break the shame barrier for all who would believe on Him. The writer of Hebrews instructs us when he says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus broke through the shame barrier both in His life and in His death. We also can break shame through His life, which is in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, I thank You for a life free of condemnation. I rejoice because the Lord Jesus has broken the shame barrier once and for all. I celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit who enables me to break the shame barrier because of what Your Son has accomplished in the work of the cross.
Romans 8:1-2 – Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
I believe this to be one of the most powerful scriptures in the entire Bible. It is now, it is in Christ Jesus, and it is the law of the Spirit. Today, we will consider some of the results of shame in a person’s life.
Shame produces a negative attitude. When one is under the bondage of shame, their tendency is to see life through a negative prism. They have only known negative feelings concerning themselves, so it becomes very difficult to see life any other way.
Shame causes a person to focus on themself rather than the needs of others. Shame is “self-consuming.” On a natural level, it is our own self-esteem that permits us to view others in a healthy way. Shame makes it difficult to be concerned for another’s circumstance.
Trust becomes an issue for the individual who feels shamed. Their defenses are up to prevent further embarrassment or hurt feelings. Shame is a killer of real friendships and intimacy. It is difficult to relate in a healthy way with others, if one cannot relate in a healthy way with themselves.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the shamed person to be sure of their salvation. Since trust is a root problem with the shamed individual, trusting the Lord and His promises is an ongoing challenge for the one struggling with shame issues. Faith is a constant battle. Rather than resting in the Lord, the shamed person is always in a state of unrest and anxiety. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. The shamed person can never fully become all that the Lord designed them to be. A spirit of doubt is a root spirit that can control a person who feels shamed.
Shame will keep us from being bold and courageous in our witness for Christ. The shamed person cannot handle rejection. Rejection will come from some people as Christ is presented. Many are not interested in the gospel because it first brings conviction of sin. The shamed person turns “conviction” into a negative of “condemnation” rather than the means to salvation and freedom that is found in Christ.
Father, I ask You to reveal any shame in me. I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to break that law of death. I ask You to fill me with the love of Christ, first for myself and then for others. Help me to reject shame and receive the full benefit of the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 – Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
A simple definition of shame is – a painful feeling of having lost respect of others and of oneself because of improper behavior, failure not to meet the expectation of another, and not living up to your own expectation of yourself.
Many Bible figures had to overcome shame. Abram felt shame not having a child for whom he could leave an inheritance. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning “father of many.” God not only gave him a child, He multiplied his seed so His posterity was like the sand of the sea. Jacob was shamed because he deceived his father into thinking that he was Esau, his older brother, from whom he stole the birthright. Later, God changed Jacob’s name, which meant “deceiver” to Israel, meaning “Prince with God.” Joseph was shamed by his brothers who sold him into slavery. In Egypt, God raised him up to serve Pharaoh and save the nation in a time of famine. Some others I could write about would be Moses – shamed from Egypt and shame that he was inarticulate. Saul felt shame because of his persecution of the church and Timothy because of his age. Then there is Peter, who denied his Lord three times.
People do shameful things because they live from a shame base in their life experience. They are acting out what they believe about themselves. Many see themselves as a failure, evil, rejected, ugly, unworthy of love, and a host of other things.
Jesus broke the shame barrier once and for all in life and death. He gave us power in our life to rule over shame. He has empowered us to receive His forgiveness and acceptance. He wants to equip us so we too might help others break off shame from their lives. The Lord’s call for each of His children is to break shame’s power and be free to serve in humility.
One of the strongest proponents of shame is religion. Religion can put the expectations of others upon an individual. In Christianity, one can come to church feeling shameful. When they hear and receive the gospel they experience the freedom Christ has for them. Shame lifts, but as they hang around the church, shame begins to creep back in as others put their expectations on the new believer. We should never shame someone into being a follower of Jesus. God certainly doesn’t.
Father, I thank You for taking my shame upon Yourself. I thank You for the covering You have given to me in the Lord Jesus Christ who causes me to know I am loved and cared for by the power of the Holy Spirit. Help me to communicate that love to others as well.