Shame is Nothing to be Ashamed of

Popular, secular therapy proclaims the evils of shame. It’s wrong. Sure, shame is misused and abused, but deep-shame—deep shame alone—offers our only hope of grace-based healing. As J. I. Packer once suggested, “Seek the grace to be ashamed.” (This is a response to the anti-shame rant in the world around us.)

Shame

Scripture tells two stories of boatload catches of fish, the first at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 5:4-8) and the second at the end (John 21:2-7). In both stories:

  • Professional fishermen fish all night.
  • Their night of fishing is fruitless; not a single fish is caught.
  • The following morning, an amateur offers unsolicited and unusual directions.
  • The fishermen obey and catch so many fish that their boats begin to sink.

Despite their similarities, there is one, huge difference. After the first miracle, Peter exclaims to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” After the second, Peter casts himself into the sea and breaks an Olympic-record-freestyle to get close to Jesus.

What changed in Peter that drove him to Jesus? He had finally experienced deep shame.

Is There Any Value in Experiencing Deep Shame?

A lethal virus is infecting many believers today. It’s the pop-therapy that claims shame is bad. Shallow-shame is bad, but only deep-shame brings healing. Without it we are doomed.

J. I. Packer tells us, “Seek the grace to be ashamed” (Knowing God).

The gospels describe two different miraculous catches of fish. The first occurs at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry hiding(Luke 5:4-8) and the second happens at the end (John 21:2-7). They are very similar:

  • In both stories, professional fishermen fish all night.
  • In both stories, the night of fishing is fruitless; not one fish is caught.
  • In both stories, an amateur gives them specific directions how to fish.
  • In both stories, the fishermen catch so many fish that their boats are sinking.

But there is one, huge difference. After the first miracle, Peter exclaims, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” After the second, Peter throws himself into the sea and swims an Olympic-record-breaking freestyle to get to Jesus.

In the first miracle, Peter experiences shallow-shame and he runs from Jesus. In the second, Peter experiences a shame that is deep and he races to Jesus.