Shame leads to bad behavior and judgement. In fact, there are scientifically-backed studies that prove that what the Scriptures say about legalism is true: those who are the most judgemental and harsh are those who experience shame on the deepest level. What they say to others is what they subconsciously say to themselves. When you run into people who are mean-spirited and condemning, they often have a voice swirling around in their mind telling them that they are a bad person or a failure. For whatever reason, that voice causes them to be more strict and merciless towards others.
In John 8, Jesus is in the temple and a group of really hardcore, wicked men take a woman who was caught in the act of adultery and drag her out in front of a crowd to stone her. Knowing that Jesus is merciful, their intent is to to trap Him into breaking the law of Moses, but rather than making a statement about the woman’s sin, He turns it around on them and says, “He who has not sinned can throw the first stone.” Then, the Bible says that oldest to youngest, each one dropped their stones and walked away.
What’s amazing to me about this story is that all of these men struggled with shame; they all knew they didn’t live up to the law. Subconsciously, their sin weighed on them, but rather than own it, they decided to project it onto this poor woman. When Jesus called them on it, their shame moved into their conscious minds, they felt it, and then walked away.
Friend, shame has no place in your life. Receive God’s forgiveness and give him the guilt of your past. As you do, you will become a more loving, patient and joy-filled person, who can readily extend mercy to others.