Be Ashamed When You Sin, Not When You Repent

By Joel A. Hess

“Be ashamed when you sin, not when you repent.” – John Chrysostom

This little quote from Golden Mouth struck me this past week. Our social media society has compelled most people to configure false images of themselves on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Like a recent episode of the British TV show Black Mirror, people put stuff out there to get likes, pure and simple. Ha, it’s kind of like this blog post. Therefore, at first glance, it may appear that all our friends are living extraordinary lives of constant adventure, romance, perfect marriages, and happy families. Black Mirror really shoves this in your face.

Church can be the same way. We don’t want people to see our sins. We don’t want people to know that we struggle. I’ve had people ask if they knew of a good pastor in the area because they didn’t want to tell me anything terrible because we go to the same church. What? I always respond by saying that I’ve heard it all. I already assume you are a creep!

It makes sense though, doesn’t it? I’d probably be the same way. It’s embarrassing. I had a couple see me for premarital counseling a while back. Her biggest complaint was that she didn’t feel like those other couples at church who look so happy and loving. She believed the Facebook posts.

Satan loves this. Like Adam and Eve, he wants you to hide, run away, stay in the closet, and believe that you are a monster and that if anyone found out, they would throw you out!

The two disciples that walked away from Jerusalem, from the Church, did so because they didn’t like that picture of Jesus on his Instagram: arms spread, dripping blood, beaten, and head hanging. But that’s what it’s all about! That’s what it’s always been about. That’s why Jesus had to teach them about the cross before He showed them the resurrection. Before they saw the nail prints in his living hands, they needed to know why they were in his dead hands.

Jesus has made it safe to stand before God. Jesus has made it safe to be honest with God and one another. He took our condemnation so that we don’t need to be afraid of it. We can get out all our dirty laundry. The Church is the last place where we should be ashamed to admit we suck.

The Church should be full of people who struggle with past abortions, homosexual feelings, past affairs, depression, broken families, suicidal thoughts, doubts, love of money, watching porn, and fear of death. You are in good company!

Be ashamed of your sin, but don’t be ashamed of repenting or of speaking it to the pastor and to God. He didn’t die for people who go 15 over the speed limit. He died for the ugly creeps—you and me.

Don’t be afraid. Tell your pastor your sins. He loves to hear them. Jesus loves to take them away. Hear the pastor say what has been given him to say, “I release you! Go in peace!”