A woman comes to Jesus in a Pharisee’s house weeping and washing his feet. No doubt she felt shame as the eyes of Simon communicated to everyone present that this woman was a sinner and that Jesus had no business letting her touch him.
Indeed she was a sinner. There was a place for true shame. But not for too long.
Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). And when the guests murmured about this, he helped her faith again by saying, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50).
How did Jesus help her battle the crippling effects of shame? He gave her a promise: “Your sins have been forgiven! Your faith has saved you. Your future will be one of peace.” He declared that past pardon would now yield future peace.
So the issue for her was faith in God’s grace rooted in the authority of Jesus’s forgiving work and freeing word. That is the way every one of us must battle the effects of shame that threatens to linger too long and cripple us.
We must battle unbelief by taking hold of the promises of grace and peace that come through the forgiveness of our shameful acts.
“But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (Psalm 130:4).
“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).
God’s forgiveness is the liberating power for our freedom from shame. Forgiveness is full of grace. When we live by faith in grace, we are freed from the lingering, paralyzing effects of well-placed shame.