Cultivating a Life Without Shame: Day 5

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     Day 5: Commit to Growth

READING: Psalm 119

  • What does Psalm 119 teach about the greatness of the Word of God? 
  • What is the most memorable lesson you’ve learned about the dangers of shame this week? 
  • What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself this week?
  • Take 10 minutes to write out your own prayer to God today. 

 

Note: A “Summer in the Psalms” Reading Guide will be available every day through June, July & August. Stay tuned! 

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Cultivating a Life Without Shame: Day 4

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     Day 4: Shame Cannot Define You

Christian author and speaker Christine Caine speaks regularly about the impact that shame can have in our lives. She has noted that she was left nameless on her birth certificate because her mother wasn’t sure she would keep her. This pattern continued, as later in life a social worker wrote that her mother wasn’t progressing and didn’t seem overly attached to her child. Later in life, a professor wrote that Christine should find something she’s good at, but that public speaking wouldn’t be a career in which she could do well. (Christine shared all of these things during the Passion 2018 conference in front of tens of thousands of college students.)       

Her story is important, because it shows that if we experience one moment of shame in our lives it doesn’t mean that our entire life story is shameful. Just because we may experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse, it doesn’t define who we are. Only God can fully define who we are. Only God can oversee our whole story. Only God can help us identify the areas of shame in our lives and completely uproot them. And when all shame, envy, judgment, worry, hurt, and fear has been uprooted, we can fully grow into the people God has made us to be.

As you read today, consider this: Who or what is defining your life story?  

READING:

     Psalm 57:2; Psalm 138:8; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Proverbs 19:21; John 15:5

Who or what is defining your life story? 

If somebody asked you if you were fulfilling the purpose God has for your life, how would you respond? 

Of all of the topics covered throughout this series, which one had the greatest impact on you? Why do you think that is?

In what ways has this series led you to more fully abide in Christ (see John 15:5)?

God is inviting you to live a life completely free from shame. What does this reveal to you about His nature and character? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that I have allowed other things to define my life. There have been moments in my life that have led me to hold onto fear, hurt, worry, judgment, envy or shame that have ultimately led me away from the wonders of who You are. While these memories may never leave me, continue to instill within me that You and You alone will define my life. I will rejoice in You and You alone! I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Cultivating a Life Without Shame: Day 3

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     Day 3: The Lies That Lead to Shame: Part II

Have you ever paid close attention to Scripture verses that mention the devil throughout the Bible? As you read passages such as Genesis 3:1 and Matthew 4:1-11, you quickly see a pattern.

The first thing you may notice is that the devil knows the Scriptures really, really well. He may be foolish thinking that he’s better than God, but he’s not unintelligent. He knows the Bible inside and out. 

The second thing you may notice is that the devil challenges the Word of God and what it really says. In Genesis 3:1 the serpent asks Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” Then in Matthew 4:1-11, The devil encourages Jesus to throw Himself off the temple, going on to quote an Old Testament passage stating that God would protect Him. Clearly, the devil is cunning, and will try to get us to believe lies that ultimately lead to shame. To combat this, we must replace these lies with the truth. 

In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” As you read today, consider this: What steps can you take to hold to Jesus’ teachings, remind yourself of the truth, and be set free from shame? 

READING:

     2 Timothy 3:16-17; Ephesians 6:12; John 8:31-32; Genesis 15:6

What steps can you take to hold to Jesus’ teachings, remind yourself of the truth, and be set free from shame?

If it’s true that the devil is real and also knows the Scriptures inside and out, then how important is it for you to know the Bible well? 

Moving forward, what are some steps you will take to get to understand and know the Scriptures better? 

God is inviting you to live a life completely free from shame. What does this reveal to you about His nature and character? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I simply want to live my life by abiding in Your Word! While there are parts of the Bible that I may not fully know or understand, I still believe that You have provided the Scriptures for my benefit. May Your words regularly be used to teach me, correct me, reprove me, and train me for everything that is righteous, and holy, and good. And may I come to know Your Word so well that I’m able to regularly encourage others. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Cultivating a Life Without Shame: Day 2

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     Day 2: The Lies That Lead to Shame: Part I

In Genesis 2:25, sin had not yet entered the world. Regarding Adam and Eve, this verse says, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” It’s an extremely important verse in the Bible because it shows that God created the world in such a way that we would never experience shame. 

But after sin enters the world, Adam and Eve recognize their nakedness, and they hide from God. God walks through the Garden of Eden and asks them two important questions. First, He asks, “Where are you?” And second, He asks, “Who told you that you were naked?” In that moment, God knew that Adam and Eve had experienced shame, and they only experienced it because they believed a lie from the enemy. 

Now imagine for a moment that God is asking you the same questions. First, to anybody hiding from Him, He asks, “Where are you?”. And second, to anybody experiencing shame, He asks, “Who told you that you were stupid? Who told you that you were fat? Who told you that you were lazy? Who told you that you were ugly? Who told you that you’ll never amount to anything? Who told you…?” As you read today, consider this: There are many lies that lead to shame. Which lies do you hear most often? 

READING:

     Jeremiah 23:23-24; Hebrews 4:12-13; Psalm 139:7-12

There are many lies that lead to shame. Which lies do you hear most often? Which one lie do you hear most often? 

When you hear these lies, how do you find yourself responding to them (eg. hiding from God, believing the lies, shaming others, etc)? 

How would you respond to God if you heard Him ask the question, “Where are you?”

God is inviting you to live a life completely free from shame. What does this reveal to you about His nature and character? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that I have believed many lies that have only brought me shame. By believing these lies, I have not only hidden from you, but have also used these same lies against others, leading them to experience shame. Forgive me for the times I have done this, and forgive me for the times when I haven’t fully trusted You. I no longer want to believe any of the lies that the enemy may throw my way. Instead, I simply want to focus on the love and grace that You and You alone can provide me in full. May I continually rejoice in that! I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Cultivating a Life Without Shame: Day 1

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     Day 1: Shame vs Guilt

Pause for a minute and think about this: what is the main difference between shame and guilt? 

This is a question that both secular scholars as well as christian counselors have wrestled with for a number of years. From a biblical perspective, it’s an interesting question as the Bible seemingly has a different way of seeing shame vs guilt. 

Shame often leads us to try to hide from God. For example, in the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, they immediately experienced shame and they tried to hide from God as a result. Guilt, on the other hand, leads us back towards God. Psalm 25:3 notes that those who hope in God will ever be put to shame. The Bible says that we are all guilty of sin (Roman 3:23) but we may still experience life by calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13). 

Another way of thinking about is this: Shame says, “I’m a terrible person,” but guilt says, “I did something terrible.” Shame says, “I’m such an idiot for forgetting to do that,” but guilt says, “I made a mistake, and I’m going to learn from it.”

As you read today, consider this: Have you considered the difference between shame and guilt? 

READING:

     Genesis 2:15-3:19

Have you considered the difference between shame and guilt? 

Based on the examples in today’s reading, would you say that you struggle more with guilt or with shame? 

Like Adam and Eve, is there anything in your life you’re trying to hide from God, or are you yourself hiding from Him? What do you think would happen if you stopped hiding and entered fully into His presence? 

God is inviting you to live a life completely free from shame. What does this reveal to you about His nature and character? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today has helped me to see that I regularly experience more shame in my life than I may have realized. This week, I pray that You will root up any shame in my life that has led me to hide from You. While this process may be painful, I believe that it will help me to better know You, and better know the plans that You have for my life. May I continue to know You more and more each and every day. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Cultivating a Life Without Envy: Day 5

Reading guide banner WEEK 5

     Day 5: Commit to Growth

READING: Psalm 73; Proverbs 23:17-18

Read Psalm 73. What does this Psalm say about the consequences of envy (see vv. 3 and 21-22).

  • What is the most memorable lesson you’ve learned about the dangers of envy this week? 
  • What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself this week?
  • Take 10 minutes to write out your own prayer to God today. 

Cultivating a Life Without Envy: Day 4

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     Day 4: Dealing With Envy

Imagine for just a moment having a life without envy. 

  • The guy next doors gets a new truck, and instead of resenting it, you celebrate with them. 
  • A colleague with three years’ less experience gets the promotion you applied for, and instead of criticizing your superiors, you thank them for the time and energy they poured into the process. 
  • A person with tremendous political authority gets arrested for breaking campaign finance laws and instead of celebrating, you pray for them and for those who will be taking over the office. 
  • Your favorite sports team loses the championship. Instead of ridiculing the officials or the fans from the other team, you congratulate them for a great season. 
  • A friend loses twenty pounds and instead of remaining in self-pity, you send a card congratulating them on their diligence. 

As you read today, consider this: Imagine a life with no envy. Imagine others rejoicing with you when you rejoice, and mourning with you with you mourn. Imagine doing the same for others. What would that look like? 

READING:

     Romans 12:1-21

What are three ways your life would be different if you regularly lived without any envy towards others? 

How regularly do you rejoice with others when they rejoice, and mourn with them when they mourn? 

What steps can you take to hold yourself accountable to having less envy? (Example: I will regularly write down all of the good things that are happening in my life.)

What steps can you take to allow somebody else to hold you accountable to having less envy? (Example: Who can you give permission to speak things like, “I’ve noticed you seem envious or jealous when _______ happens. Can we talk about ways to rejoice in that and not loathe them or experience self-pity?”) 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today’s reading has helped me to see that there are many times in my life when I do not rejoice with those who rejoice or mourn with those who mourn. But that’s the kind of person I want to become. Continue to lead me, guide me, and hold me accountable to being the person You’ve created me to be. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Cultivating a Life Without Envy: Day 3

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     Day 3: The Result of Envy: Part II

Have you ever stopped to consider your level of contentment in life? Perhaps it would be better to ask it this way: On a scale of 1-10, how content are you right now? 

As you may have guessed, one of the things that leads us away from contentment — is envy. Not only that, but envy is the one thing that has the potential to completely suck the joy out of our lives. 

Regarding the seven deadly sins, scholar Joseph Epstein writes that each of these sins may lead to a temporary satisfaction…except for envy. He writes, “Giving into sloth and laziness, is rather pleasant. Giving into a loss of temper, entails a release that is not without its small delights. And lust, greed, pride, bring quite a bit of pleasure…Only envy is absolutely no fun at all, draining all joy from you from its very first moment. We have all felt envy’s desperate deep soul-destroying lacerating stabs.”

From a Christian perspective, all sin leads us away from our ability to fully trust God (Galatians 5:19-21). But in his research, Epstein concludes that envy is the one thing that most drains joy from our lives. As you read today, consider this: On a scale of 1-10, how content are you right now?

READING:

     James 4:1-17

On a scale of 1-10, how content are you right now? Is it possible that envy is the one thing that is completely sucking the joy out of your life?

Think about a time in your life when you were experiencing the most contentment and joy. What was that season of your life like? Were you experiencing much envy? 

What scripture verse in James chapter 4 stuck out to you most in your reading today? How will you apply this verse throughout the rest of the week? 

God is inviting you to root out any and all envy you may be experiencing in your life. Have you scheduled a time to meet with a trusted friend to talk with them about your envy? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, while I may not be living in complete discontentment, I realize that I could (and should) have more contentment than I’m currently experiencing. Today, my desire is to simply praise You for all of the good I have in my life, and not disparage others for what they have. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Cultivating a Life Without Envy: Day 2

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     Day 2: The Result of Envy: Part I

Have you ever had a friend or loved one tell you that they struggle with envy? The answer for the majority who are reading this right now would be a big fat no. This is because it’s very difficult for anybody to admit that they have any envy. Similarly, it’s even more difficult to confront somebody who may struggle with envy.

Secular scholar Joseph Epstein has done years of research on the topic of envy. In an essay discussing why we don’t want to confront others who are struggling with envy, Epstein writes, “Most of us could still sleep decently if accused of anger or pride or lust or even greed, but to be accused of envy would be by far the worst. So clearly does such an accusation go directly to character. The other sins, though all have the disapproval of religion, do not so thoroughly, deeply, demean, diminish or disqualify a person. But you see the distinction of envy is its enormous pettiness.” 

In other words, Epstein concludes that we don’t like to confess to struggling with envy because it goes directly against our character. We don’t like to confess to struggling with envy because it makes us look petty.

As you read today, consider this: How could somebody help you root out any envy you may have in order to grow?

READING:

     James 3:7-18 

How could somebody help you root out any envy you may have in order to grow in emotional and spiritual health? 

Do you agree with Epstein, that envy is one of the greatest character flaws we can have? That envy makes us look petty? Explain. 

According to James 3:7-18, how does envy lead us to speak about others? 

God is inviting you to root out any and all envy you may be experiencing in your life. Who is somebody you trust who you can talk with about your envy? If possible, schedule a time to talk with them sometime within the next week.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminder that how I see others and speak about them really matters, because You have created all people in Your likeness. Continue to provide me with wisdom to see others as You do, and to regularly offer words of encouragement and not condemnation. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Cultivating a Life Without Envy: Day 1

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     Day 1: What is Envy?

Of the many different things that may discourage or distract us from growing in emotional and spiritual health, envy is one that may very well top the list. But what is envy? 

In a nutshell, envy is the desire to have somebody else’s life. Or in other words, it’s resenting somebody else for the life they have. 

Some marks of a person who struggles with envy may include:

  • Not rejoicing in what others have or get to experience. Instead, resenting them because you don’t have what they do.
  • Finding fault with a particular person regularly. 
  • Being comforted or rejoicing when something bad happens to somebody in a position of authority. 
  • Regularly experiencing self-pity.
  • Regularly struggling with comparison-itis. Nothing is good enough. Your job isn’t good enough. Your marriage isn’t good enough. Your love life isn’t good enough. Your body isn’t good enough. Most aspects of life aren’t good enough, because you compare everything you have against others. 

As you read today, consider this: Why do you think it’s hard for people to admit they struggle with envy? 

READING:

     Exodus 20:17; Galatians 5:26; Hebrews 13:5

Why do you think it’s hard for people to admit they struggle with envy? 

Think about it: what are at least five possible consequences to a life of envy? 

How many of these consequences have you personally experienced?

God is inviting you to root out any and all envy you may be experiencing in your life. Ask God to reveal any envy you may be experiencing in your life. 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I recognize that You are inviting me to root out all envy from my life. I don’t want to continually struggle with comparison-itis, but our world functions in constant comparison. Lead and guide me to see envy for what it really is. Provide me wisdom to not only recognize it, but to root it out so that I may better rejoice with others, and not constantly condemn them. Lead me into a life of contentment. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.