Shame has its moment
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. 8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. – Genesis 3:7-8 [NLT]
I’ve never been in an escape room. Maybe you have. It’s a room designed to entertain and challenge. You are locked in with clues found in various places offering directions or ideas to a way of escape. I’m guessing there’s a get-out-of-the-escape-room-free buzzer of some sort. After all, the proprietors wouldn’t want people to be locked in forever!
Adam and Eve are in a different kind of pickle. They have sinned, shamed themselves, and separated themselves from God and his ways. What will they do? What is the first order of business? Clothe themselves, of course!
I get it, and would tend toward the same priority. But there really is a more pressing need. They need to get to God. They need to seek his help. They need to come clean with him about their sin and shame. That is a greater need than poorly-chosen material for their futile attempts to cover themselves.
To make matters worse, they not only don’t run to God, they actually hide from him. Was it fear of his harsh judgment? Was it belief that they could somehow outrun him and exempt themselves from the consequence: “On the day you eat of [the forbidden fruit] you will surely die.”? Shame has its moment, however. Shame leads them to cover their nakedness from each other. Shame sends them scurrying to hide when God comes to walk with them. Shame drives them, and it is not their friend.
They way out of shame is not to deny the cause. Sin rightly brings shame. Think of the politician who is forced to resign in shame for his promiscuous actions. A discredited pastor resigns because he embezzled church funds. He brings shame on the church, his family, and himself. Then there are those who flaunt their shameful lifestyles. LGBTQ-Pride?!? Pride?!? All too many today “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).
The cure for shame is forgiveness, and the loving grace of God who welcomes sinners. Who he forgives, and who receives that forgiveness fully, is freed from shame. With forgiveness sin is gone. As far as the east is from the west. And with sin goes shame.
We’ll never experience the fullness of forgiveness if we are running and hiding from God. We’ll never get over our shame apart from confessing our sin, entrusting ourselves to God who is good, and receiving his mercy. Even if we must deal with the consequences of sins big and small, it is better that we put ourselves into God’s hands than try to live apart from him.
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. 8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. – Genesis 3:1-7 [NLT]