Joel: Living Without Shame {Minor Moments}

Is there anything situation in your past that you are ashamed to recall? My husband once said in a sermon that he had never met anyone that was not ashamed of something in their past, and if there was such a person, he would not want to meet them! Everybody has something in their past they are ashamed of… yet shame is not a state that we must continue to live in.

To live with or without shame is a choice.

As we read in the book of Joel, we see that the children of Judah had much to be ashamed of and the Lord was angry with them – but it didn’t have to be that way. God does not want anyone to have any reason to be ashamed of their lives, either here or in the hereafter.

  • He wants us to live an abundant and happy life here on this earth (John 10:10).
  • He wants everyone to be able to be with Him and enjoy eternal life—so much so that He sent the beautiful gift of His Son to make it happen (Romans 6:23).
  • He doesn’t want anybody to be lost and ashamed on the Day of Judgment (2 Peter 3:9).

The Lord was waiting to bless Judah, and is waiting to bless us. The only thing keeping us in a state of shameful living is ourselves. So how can we live a life free from shame? Let’s look first at what Judah was told.

The problem was that Judah had been so wicked, that God was going to execute swift judgement upon them (Joel 2:1-11). They should have taken the plague as a warning (ch.1). The Lord tells them that the day when He will bring judgment upon their nation is near—the Day of the Lord (v.1; cf. 1:15). He tells them that He is going to bring a very mighty army up against them that is going to bring widespread destruction (vv. 2-5). The army is going to come so quickly and with so much force that they are not going to be able to do anything to defend themselves (vv. 6-11).

The children of Judah had been in sin for so long that the Lord had run out of patience – but he still told them it was not too late. They need to get ready for judgement, or they will have reason to be ashamed when the Lord executes His wrath.

As a solution to their problems, they needed to turn to the Lord in penitence (Joel 2:12-17). They had to prepare for the coming judgment by turning to the Lord with a genuine repentance—one that came from the heart (vv.12-13). They had to call all the people to mourn (vv.15-16), and the leaders of the people (the priests) had to show true sorrow and lead their people in penitent worship to God (v.17).

The solution was simple: if they turned to the Lord, He would be merciful and choose not to destroy them as He had promised (v.12-13), and they would be blessed again (v.14).

If they repented, the Lord’s promise was that they would be blessed and have their shame removed (Joel 2:18-27). The Lord promised them that if they would turn to Him:

  • He would turn back to them (v.18).
  • They would receive many material blessings (v.19, 22-26a).
  • Their reproach would be taken away (v.19b).
  • Their enemies would be defeated (v.20).
  • God would be with them (v.26).
  • They would have no more reason to be ashamed (v.26, 27).

The penitence of Israel would result in a full restoration of their former relationship with their God, and freedom from shame. No one would be able to make them ashamed.

“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame” (Joel 2:26, 27).

How does their situation apply to ours?

We also have a coming “Day of the Lord” to prepare for, that is going to come so suddenly and without warning that we will be able to do nothing to rectify our situation once it comes (v.9; cf. Matthew 24:42-44). This is only a problem if we are unprepared. For those who are not following the Lord’s commands, the day will be one of terror, and they will wish they could escape, but they will not be able (v.3, 11; cf. Revelation 6:16, 17). Because of this, we need to be ready.

To be ready, we must also respond with a heart of mourning – we must also turn to the Lord in penitence. As God doesn’t speak to us directly today, we need to be examining ourselves constantly to see whether we are still living according to God’s commandments (2 Corinthians 13:5). We need to mourn from a sincere heart when we find ourselves caught in wrong-doing. Just as God did with the Israelites, God wants sincere worshipers today—those who will worship Him with the right actions and from the heart (John 4:24). It is not enough to show the outward signs of grief, we must also truly turn our hearts from sin to serving God (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Our actions aren’t the only thing that matters—just as God would not bless the Israelites for their insincerity, we will not be blessed if our hearts are not right. It is only when we are walking in the light of God that we can have fellowship with God and be cleansed from our sins and be blessed (1 John 1:7-9). We have the promise that we will be blessed if we are walking the way that God wants us to.

What lessons can we learn from Judah?

  1. It is only when we are following the Lord’s commandments that we can expect to receive His blessings. Though physical blessings are not always a sign of godliness, we cannot expect to receive special blessings of the Lord if we never put Him to the test (Micah 3:8-10). When we seek the Lord, we will always have what we need (Matthew 6:33).
  2. Living out God’s will protects us from the reproach of those who wish to say bad things about God’s people. When we as God’s people act like God’s people, there will be no reason for the world to truly speak badly concerning us. Though others may mock, good works show them that you are really what you say you are, and in the end they cannot accuse you of hypocrisy (1 Peter 2:12).
  3. Turning to God not only gives us an assurance of blessings and freedom from reproach in this life, but also in the life to come. There would truly be no greater shame than to stand before the Lord at the judgment seat and have Him to say, “Depart from me, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). When we obey God’s word, we will never have a reason to be ashamed (1 Peter 2:6). We will never have a reason to be ashamed because He will make good His promises (Titus 1:2). If we do His will we can be confident that He will keep His promises and we will truly have no reason to be ashamed. We can know that if we do His will, He will say to us in that Day, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
  4. Whether we live in a state of shame or honour before God and man is our choice. The Israelites were in a shameful state, but they did not have to be. God promised them that He would restore their relationship and honour as soon as they remedied their situation. We do not have to live in a state of shame and dishonor—we are the ones that choose to live or die (Deuteronomy 30:19).

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It is only through realizing our problems and responding to the Lord with sincere penitence that we can receive the promises and truly live a life free from shame—both in this life and the next. There would be nothing that would produce greater sorrow and shame than to have the Lord ask for you to depart and deny you eternal life.

Some soul searching questions:

  1. Are there any problems in your life that you need to remedy?
  2. Is there anything that you need to show true penitence for today?
  3. Are you living in such a way that others can tell that you are one of God’s people?
  4. Do you have anything you need to give up that is giving you reason to be ashamed before God today?

Remember that you have no reason to ever be ashamed—the only one that can ever cause you to be ashamed is you.

If you have something you need to change in your life – some reason to be ashamed before God – please do not hesitate to respond to His call today. He is waiting to bless you, and His people will never be ashamed (Joel 2:26, 27).

“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame” (Joel 2:26, 27).

joel

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Please contact me if you have any questions or comments about anything I have said today!

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Other Posts in this series:

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