Shame, projected

Shame is basic to our human condition since the Fall. We’re all experts at sewing fig leaves, trying to conceal our nakedness.

A waste product of this shame is that we often project our own self-loathing into the hearts of others. If it’s hard to believe God looks on us with favor in Christ, it’s perhaps equally hard to believe others do. This would explain our wretched tendency to put nearly everything said or done to us by another person in the worst possible light: “Oh, she did that just to spite me . . . .” “See, I wasn’t included again, which just proves . . . .” “How dare he ask that of me! If that doesn’t show how little I’m valued . . . . ”

Of course, it may be that other people actually think of us much worse than we imagine – it is certain that they see our faults more clearly than we do. But if the gospel means anything, it means we can lift up our heads before God even when no one else will allow it; and it means we have power as His people not only to extend grace and favor to each other, but also to receive and trust this favor from one another. Love doesn’t assume another person sees me through my own graceless eyes, any more than it assumes the other person sees me through my own rosy spectacles. It believes, rather, that God’s truth and grace are at work in the heart of the other who names His name, and that He intends me to be the beneficiary of both.

to us

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