How to Despise Shame

What did Jesus do to shame? He despised it.  “For the joy set before Him, (Jesus) endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Heb 12:2)

de●spise – to intensely dislike, to regard with contempt.

Though shame threatens to make us despicable, we must declare shame despicable.  Despising shame means saying, “Shame, you are the shameful fool.  You have no voice or power in my life.  You threatened, but I will not change my course.”  For Jesus, despising shame meant bearing the greatest symbol of social shame and disgust.  He knew the shame of the cross was fleeting and insignificant in light of God’s honorable evaluation.  When shame threatens to expose, humiliate, or devalue you, despise those false whispers. 

Have the courage and boldness to endure any shame, because it is ultimately inconsequential. (In fact, in God’s economy, shame precedes glory!) Here are two images of how we can despise shame:


Shame terrorizes the soul.  Shame lurks about, waiting to destroy people.  Like a terrorist, shame strikes fear by threatening to expose our vulnerabilities and remind us of our weaknesses.  Martin Luther King, Jr. recounts an instructive story of how Negroes exposed KKK terrorism.  This story illustrates how people can despise the terrorism of shame – by just sitting out on the porch.

negoes on porch

“Ordinarily, threats of Klan action were a signal to the Negroes to go into the houses, close the doors, pull the shades, or turn off the lights.  Fearing death, they played dead.  But this time they had prepared a surprise.  When the Klan arrived – according to the newspapers “about forty carloads of robed and hooded members” – porch lights were on and doors open.  As the Klan drove by, the Negroes behaved as though they were watching a circus parade. Concealing the effort it cost them, many walked about as usual; some simply watched from their steps; a few waved at the passing cars. After a few blocks, the Klan, nonplussed, turned off into a side street and disappeared into the night.” (The Autobiography of MLK, Jr., p 95)

There is no reason to be terrorized by shame.  When shame threatens, we can sit on the porch and wave at it with a smile.  It is false and illegitimate.  Despise it!


Shame always bluffs, as if it has two aces.  Shame bullies us into folding our cards and backing out.  But, shame only controls and defines us when we live in fear of it. But there is no reason to yield to its bluff.  Why?  We’ve got the two aces!!  We have the upper hand.  We can put our two aces on the table and say, “The riches are all mine!” To despise shame means calling its bluff.  Here are two truths that help us call shame’s bluff, and banish it from the game (for more, click here):

  • Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” – Romans 10:11
  • Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more.”- Isaiah 54:4

We must shame shame, and expose its weaknesses! How does your heart usually respond to the threat of shame?  How do you see shame ‘terrorize’?  Does it make you fear vulnerability, or not want to be known?  Does it make you disassociate with certain people considered ‘shameful’?

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2 Comments on “How to Despise Shame

  1. Very good article I enjoyed it, I too struggle with shame at times in ministry and you begin saying you not doing this again or so forth but its time we rise and despise shame and endure the cross

  2. What a blessing to have the healing balm of God’s word to spread over our aching hearts. When people’s actions threaten to shame us, we can follow our Savior’s example and despise it by instead focusing on the joy set before us. Kingdom glory forever and ever! Amen!

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