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Pain Without Shame

1 Peter 4:16
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (NIVUK)

Physical pain is intended to be very helpful.  It is a way of telling us that something is wrong, and a remedy is needed.  But in many diseases, pain can play tricks on us - either failing to give the right signal or giving the wrong ones.  In this corrupted world, even moral pain can be manipulated by Satan.  Sometimes, we get into trouble for doing what is right, just as Jesus did (Luke 23:32-34) - from those who are resisting Jesus (even if they do not realise what they are doing).  The devil can then deceive a believer's sensitive conscience by suggesting that the reason for their pain is that they are in the wrong.

That is why we need to calibrate our conscience with God’s Word.  In that way we will know what pleases Him and we do not need to be ashamed; and what displeased Him, and we need to repent.  Jesus despised the shame of the cross because He was anticipating the glory of heaven (Hebrews 12:2).  But when we find that we have offended friends or family by doing and saying what is right, a sensitive conscience will often feel some sort of shame.  The pain of shame usually drives us to hide away and to try to undo what has led us there.  Satan encourages that, so that we pull back from the front line of Christian witness, and even apologise to others for upsetting them, when all we have done is to obey the Lord.

You can see how necessary Peter's instruction was at the time, as well as now, to encourage the believers to keep on actively following Jesus in public as well as private witness. The Apostle Paul tackles this head on at least 15 times including to his apprentice church leader, Timothy: "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (2 Timothy 1:12).
The antidote to shame is the confidence of knowing that you have God's approval.  Paul instructed Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).  That is why Christians who do not soak themselves in God’s Word become a prey for the Enemy.  When you know that your life and witness agree with what the Bible says, then you can dismiss the lying temptations of Satan. He wants you to stop following Jesus.  On the other hand, the Lord has chosen you to receive His grace and to administer His grace to others - for their blessing and His glory.  And that should happen most where you spend most of your time - at work!

Father God. Thank You for allowing me to bear the Name of Jesus, as I follow Him. Please forgive me when my conscience is dysfunctional, when I am ashamed for being right with You, or not ashamed of offending You. When others despise me because of You, please encourage me not to feel defeated - but glad that the character of Christ has been recognised in me. Teach me the things that please You, from Your Word, so that I will not feel ashamed, nor be put off my commitment to follow Jesus and to serve others in His Name. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams