Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“May Christ through your faith actually dwell, (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love. That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints, God’s devoted people, the experience of that love, what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it.”
Ephesians 3: 17, 18
Today’s Text for Study:
“Even as in His love He chose us, actually picked us out for Himself as His own in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, consecrated and set apart for Him and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.”
Ephesians 1: 4
“The Negative Trio: Shame, Blame and Fear
“The true original and prime motive of all gracious, bountiful expressions and effusions of love upon His elect, is the good pleasure of His will.”
Have I ever allowed blame, shame and fear to keep me from grasping the truth of my Father’s great love for me?
What does it mean in my life to know that God has chosen me to be His own?
“Daughter, I have suffered many pains for thy love; therefore thou hast great cause to love Me right well, for I have bought thy love full dear.”
“It’s a good thing God chose me before I was born, because He surely would not have afterwards.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“Thus said the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; fear not.”
Isaiah 44: 2
It may seem slightly unusual to look at a trio of negative emotions as we study the life of two of the most complex individuals in the Bible, David and Bathsheba; however, there is a definite reason I’ve taken today to include a look at three emotional responses which can be the result of our failings in life – especially as they relate to what are labeled, “moral failures.”
Several weeks ago, I happened upon an article that detailed some of the reactions, we as women have, when we “hook-up” with the wrong person and the relationship becomes destructive. As the author noted, there are often three constant emotions present after an intimate union falls apart. First, there’s the “blame” game. Who is at fault? Or it may be this frequently asked question, “What did I do wrong?” This happens when we try to blame ourselves. Second, there’s the blanket of shame. “I’m so embarrassed I just want to crawl in a hole and never come out.” Or there’s the twin of shame that leaves us covered in guilt, feeling disgraced and unworthy. Finally, there’s the power force of fear which can literally paralyze us with dread and apprehension, hindering us from ever moving one step forward.
I’d like to take a look at how each of these three emotional attacks could easily have been present in Bathsheba’s life after she and David had their tryst.
1. Blame: As a powerful king, someone respected and well-known to Bathsheba’s family, David was the guy with the target on his back. The Biblical account notes that it was Bathsheba that David sent for, not the other way around. And I’ll just make this observation, when God sent Nathan the prophet to the palace, it was with this heavenly message to David, “Thou art the man.” But, I’d also like to share the insightful words of Eric Allenbaugh regarding blame: “Yes, there are times when something is legitimately not our fault. Blaming others however, keeps us in a stuck state and is ultimately rough on our own self-esteem.” In the end, no matter who was to blame for the moral failure in the case of David and Bathsheba, rehashing the problem or pointing fingers would be like a whirling tire stuck in the mud going round and round in the same place unable to move forward.
2. Shame: Just put yourself in Bathsheba’s shoes for a moment. Your husband was off at war and you went to the palace of the king where you had an intimate relationship and a few hours later you were hustled home by his aides only to have to sit there thinking about what happened. I don’t believe there’s a woman on earth who wouldn’t find herself feeling a little shame or guilt – whether the situation was her fault or not. A dear friend who has counseled rape victims, told me that one of the most difficult emotions for women to conquer after being forcibly violated by another person is shame. Even when there is a tragic event which was perpetrated upon an innocent individual, yet the feeling of embarrassment and guilt, what we call shame, still hovers like a dark cloud around a person who did nothing wrong. Author Paul Ekman makes this very interesting distinction between shame and guilt: “Shame is closely related to guilt, but there is a key qualitative difference. No audience is needed for feelings of guilt, no one else need know, for the guilty person is (their) own judge. Not so for shame. The humiliation of shame requires disapproval or ridicule by others.” As I read this passage, I began to wonder how Bathsheba must have felt thinking about what people would say, if and when, they found out about what had gone on between David and her. That’s a lot of heartache to have to live with.
3. Fear: Sophocles wrote that “to him (or her) who is in fear, everything rustles.” It is easy for me to understand how fear could have ended up being a constant companion of Bathsheba’s once she realized her evening with David had a long-term consequence greater than anything she may ever have envisioned. How immobilizing it may well have been to have to find herself living with fear as an unwanted partner.
With this trio of negative emotions ready to strike the unwary with their poison arrows, I’m so thankful that our kind and gracious heavenly Father hasn’t “hung us out to dry,” so to speak. He hasn’t left us alone and without a knowledge of His great love that embraces all of us, the very best to the very worst. As the Apostle Paul tells us in our study text today, our Father views us as “blameless in His sight” through the gift of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. But Paul, to his friends in Ephesus, went on to say that not only is the “blame game” over but that we are, “above reproach,” which means the shame is gone as well. Then Paul adds, that we stand before our Father, “in love.” And if we are “in love,” we certainly have nothing to fear. In the words of John Newton in Olney Hymns:
“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes (her) sorrows, heals (her) wounds,
And drives away (her) fears.”
“Great God, Your love has called us here as we,
by love, for love were made.
Your living likeness still we bear,
Though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed.
We come, with all our heart and mind,
Your call to hear, Your love to find.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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