… The Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. … “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” … Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:1–11 (NLT)
Feelings of false shame cause us to build walls around our hearts to protect us from God and man. After Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they felt false shame because they knew they were naked and felt vulnerable. When the Lord called out to them and asked, “Where are you?” they hid.
REMEMBER: False shame is a fear of being found out, exposed, humiliated, and abandoned. (See March 11, 2013, blog.) Adam answered God, “I heard you in the garden. I knew I was naked, so I hid.”
False shame causes feelings that give us a ME focus instead of a GOD focus. Humanity entered into self effort with a few flimsy fig leaves as a covering (Genesis 3:7). Shame keeps us from relating rightly with God. Our self-righteousness is simply more fig leaves.
Feelings of false shame cause us to blame God, other people, and even creation for our life situations. Uncovering fasle shame takes tenderness and right timing before we are willing to address those areas of life that need inner healing.
Jesus’ treatment of the woman caught in the act of adultery shows how Jesus interacted with someone filled with false shame. His parting words of non-condemnation and perfect timing were like salve on the wounds of the woman’s heart.