Self-consciousness has two faces in every man, woman, and child. Like intertwined theatrical masks, one side is good and the other not. Human embarrassment produces positive transformation in some but reflects a heart of spiritual darkness in the other.
“My sins, my sins, my Savior. How sad on Thee they fall.”
The ability to be conscious of self is one way people are created in God’s image. Humans have the capacity to examine their own motivations and behavior from outside of that behavior and determine if it was good or bad. Self-centered people act as judge, jury, and sometimes executioner for what they do or say.
Productive embarrassment leads to repentance for sin, for error, for failing to live up to the life created in every child of God. This positive side of self-consciousness is created when the true reflection of the act appears on the face of Christ and the error is clearly seen. Focusing on Jesus returns repentant feet to the narrow blessed path of right relationship.
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10
Degenerative embarrassment is the result of entrenched self-focus. The insistence on evaluating all input and output from a personal nucleus of self-absorption results in either a resentment toward those who witnessed the embarrassing behavior or to a new determination to never repeat the mistake. Feeling foolish is a great incentive for personal growth. The important element of a change of heart is the origin of the desire to make a change.
“The surest sign that God is at work is when a man says ‘I have sinned’ and means it. Anything less than this is remorse for having made blunders, the reflex action of disgust at himself.” – Oswald Chambers
God truly is the center of everything regardless of human opinion. It isn’t possible for Him to be self-conscious in a bad way. God is consistent and unchanging. He is not embarrassed when humans sin; He is angered and perhaps saddened. Sin separates man and God.
God did not destroy the world by flood because He was embarrassed, He destroyed it because it was evil. Embarrassment is a servant that brings errant Christians to productive shame. Consider these simply truths about accountability:
- Anything a child does reflects on the parents.
- Anything a dog does reflects on the owner.
- Anything a horse does reflects on the trainer.
- Anything a Christian does reflects on Christ.
Can you remember the moment when you realized that something you said or did reflected poorly on someone or something you cared about? Think about a time when you truly begged forgiveness. Did you wish to make amends to the person, organization, or was your primary concern the reflection shown you by power of the Holy Spirit?
Did you feel the weight of one more sin lift from your shoulders and transfer to the Cross?
Excerpted and modernized from The Valley of Vision, number 76.
O God of grace,
Thou has imputed my sin to my Substitute and have imputed His righteousness to me, clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe, decking me with jewels of holiness.
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness.
I am always standing clothed in filthy rags and by grace receive a change of raiment. Every morning let me wear it anew, every evening return in it, go out in the day’s work in it, be married in it, be wounded to death in it, stand before the great white throne in it, and enter heaven in it shining as the sin.
Grant me to never lose sight of
- The exceeding sinfulness of sin,
- The exceeding righteousness of salvation,
- The exceeding glory of Christ,
- The exceeding beauty of holiness,
- The exceeding wonder of grace.
The Valley of Vision, published by the Banner of Truth Trust
Blessed by Embarrassment
Embarrassment that leads to repentance is the entrance to deeper relationship with Christ and fellowship with others in His family. Productive shame wraps the most blessed gift of ever-increasing grace.
“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to. – Mark Twain”
On a personal note:
I do most of my writing first thing in the morning. Today, as is frequently the case, this piece was written before any of my study and devotional materials were opened. The first words to greet me in My Utmost for His Highest was today’s scripture and the verse, “My sins, my sins, my Savior. How sad on Thee they fall.”
The word coincidence is not found in the Christian lexicon.
May you be exceeding blessed by the free and every-renewing grace of our merciful Savior.