Guilt vs Shame

Generally the words guilt and shame are used interchangeably. Psychologists say that even though this is the case, they do not mean the same thing.

Shame is how someone sees themselves according to what they have done or what someone did to them. Shame is a cloak that covers the character of a person. A person who has been molested feels shame because she/he feels dirty, unclean, or violated. This leads to believing they caused it. Shame shuts a person down to where they cannot face it or admit such a thing has happened.

Shame can be self-convicting too according to one’s actions. Feel shame because she forgot her lines in the play, stumbled in the middle of the dance floor, was the center of unwanted negative attention or anything that makes a person believe they are less than a valuable human being.

Guilt on the other hand has to do with having realized that one has done something improper, morally wrong, or out of alignment with social mores. Guilt also carries the conscientiousness that someone else has been hurt because of our actions. Guilt is carries the emotional remorse that may lead one to admit the wrong. Guilt can be anything from murder to slamming the door as to wake up the baby.

The Bible says that Jesus has come to take away guilt and shame. How does that happen?

Guilt can be washed away by repentance. Shame can be washed away by forgiveness. Both are the benefits of the Blood of Jesus.

When we confess our sin or admit that we are out of alignment with God’s goodness and someone has been hurt or put in harm’s way, we are forgiven. You are forgiven for whatever you confess or repent. You may be forgiven for each time you repent after slamming the door, but the Lord is waiting for you to repent of having disregard or inconsideration for others in your situation. Until you repent, you will not be able to access grace to change. It is through repentance that guilt is washed away.

When we forgive, we relinquish all rights to hang on to the hurt that caused the pain. The tie of sin between the sinner and the victim is removed and thus shame cannot cover soul. This is why it is important to forgive ourselves so we do not keep accusation against ourselves. If I forgot my lines or tripped on the dance floor, I need to forgive myself so I can relinquish the right to self-accuse. If someone has brought shame upon me, I need to relinquish the right to accuse him or myself. It is through forgiveness that shame is washed away.