Psalm 25:1-10 (ESV)
1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
Lent is a season of repentance. A season to reflect on the condition of our hearts and turn from what needs it. But what should we repent of?
It’s easy to list obvious sins—drunkenness, lust, and the like. Or sins that “aren’t a big deal”—using Facebook addictively or over-eating. But the opening lines of Psalm 25 hint at something else to ponder: shame.
Shame. Feeling I don’t measure up, like you wouldn’t embrace me if you really knew my thoughts and doubts and struggles. We don’t consciously think of shame as something to turn from. Yet sociologists classify whole cultures as “shame-based”—and shame burdens many of us. It keeps us from being really honest about our struggles, motivates spending to shape public image, motivates “little” lies to protect how others see me, motivates even “good” behaviors to keep others from seeing my brokenness.
The psalmist invites us to let God lead us into his truth. Truth about ourselves is a struggle if shame controls us. And shame gets in the way of our seeing the goodness of God that this passage speaks of. His mercy and steadfast love, which have been of old, are there in spite of the sins of our youth and our current transgressions. We want to be healed of our sins, of course. But we must begin with truth about ourselves; the pretending that shame inspires gets in the way.
What are you ashamed to reveal about yourself, your doubts, your fears? Who could you begin to trust to open your shame to?
Merciful Father, who frees us by your truth, free us from shame so we can come to you and to one another in reality and truth and so be truly healed, through Jesus Christ our redeemer.