Joel Osteen — Shame Off You
I want to talk to you today about "Shame off you". We've all heard the phrase, "Shame on you," starting from a child: "You didn't clean your room. Shame on you". "You were mean to your little sister. Shame on you". Even as adults, we may not hear it out loud, but it plays in our thoughts: "You fell back into that bad habit. Shame on you". "You went through a divorce. Shame on you". We don't realize how destructive shame is. We use it to try to convince people to do better, but shame does just the opposite, causes us to feel guilty, unworthy, like we don't deserve to be blessed.
A young lady told me how she had a baby when she was a teenager. She wasn't able to keep it. She put it up for adoption. Now ten years later, she said, "I feel so ashamed. I abandoned my baby. I can't sleep at night, thinking about what a terrible mother I am". That voice is constantly whispering, "Shame on you".
Shame is one of the enemy's favorite tools. He's called "The accuser". He'll remind you of every mistake, every failure. Even things that weren't your fault, he'll try to deceive you into thinking that you were to blame. People that were abused as a child had no choice in it. He'll whisper, "You're not good enough. You deserved it. That's why they mistreated you". He'll try to twist it and convince you to carry around all this heaviness, but the scripture talks about how God has removed our shame. Whether it was your fault or somebody else's, you don't have to carry the heavy load of guilt, beating yourself up, feeling wrong on the inside.
When the enemy says, "Shame on you," God says, "Shame off you. I've forgiven you. I've redeemed you. I've made you valuable". What people did or didn't do to you, they don't determine your worth. Your worth comes from your Creator. The Most High God breathed his life into you. He crowned you with his favor. He calls you a masterpiece.
Don't go around ashamed, guilty, condemned. Shake off the shame. Every time you hear that voice whispering, "Shame on you," by faith you need to hear God answering back, "Shame off you". Don't accept the shame, and I'm not saying, of course, to be flippant and think, "Well, I made a big mistake. I hurt somebody. No big deal". No, we should be remorseful, ask for forgiveness, do better next time, but the problem is, if you don't put your foot down and say, "Shame off me," even though God has removed it, that shame will follow you around.
The young lady asked me, "Joel, do you think God will forgive me"? I said, "I know God will forgive you". The real question is "Will you forgive yourself? Will you shake off the shame"? I found it's more difficult to forgive ourself than it is to forgive other people. The enemy knows, if we feel wrong on the inside, we'll never become who we were created to be. That's why he works overtime to try to bring guilt, shame, make you feel like you don't deserve to be blessed.
You have to turn off the accusing voices. You may have made mistakes, but the moment you asked God to forgive you, he not only forgave you, he took it one step further: he doesn't remember it anymore, and when those thoughts try to remind you of mistakes in the past, saying things like, "Shame on you, you were unfaithful in that relationship," "Shame on you, you were dishonest in the business deal," "Shame on you, you were rude to that family member last month," you've already asked for forgiveness. That means God doesn't remember it. That's a sure sign the accuser is at work.
You can either accept the shame, feel wrong on the inside, or you can rise up and say, "No, shame off me. I know I've been forgiven. I know God's mercy is bigger than this mistake. If God doesn't remember it, I'm not going to remember it either".
When the Israelites had been in slavery in Egypt for many years, they were very beaten-down, not only physically, but emotionally. They were constantly told they were no good, they couldn't do anything right, they would never measure up. Over time, they let that steal their sense of value. They felt inferior, insecure, like they had no self-worth.
When a person is being mistreated, abused, especially for a long time, instead of recognizing that the other person is doing them wrong, it's easy for them to accept the blame and start thinking they deserve what's happening. Before long, they're not only ashamed of what's happening, but they start to become ashamed of who they are. That's the way the Israelites felt. That's how the enemy twists things, but after 430 years, God brought them out of the slavery, out of the abuse. Just as they were about to enter the Promised Land, God said to them, "This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt off of you". "Reproach" means shame, blame, disgrace.
Notice, they couldn't go into the Promised Land with the shame, feeling unworthy, not valuable. God had to roll away the reproach. In the same way, before you can reach your highest potential, you have to get rid of any shame. You may have made mistakes, people may have done you wrong, but you can't sit around guilty, condemned, blaming yourself, blaming others. Whatever your Egypt is, a divorce, an addiction, somebody that did you wrong, God is saying, "This day," not tomorrow, not next week, not six months from now, today, God is rolling away the reproach. He's rolling away the guilt, rolling away the shame.
Now, it's up to you to accept it. You have to quit dwelling on your failures. Quit believing those lies that you've made too many mistakes, you've been hurt too badly. No, the reproach has been rolled away. When you get up in the morning and you hear those voices (and they come to all of us) "Shame on you," you have to answer right back, "No, shame off of me. I know my reproach has been taken away".
I know this man. He was happily married, has a good family, but he let his guard down and got involved with another woman. They were friends at work, the heat of the moment. It turned into something else. It happened that one time, and that was it. He felt so badly about it. He knew it was wrong. He asked God to forgive him, but year after year went by, and he still felt this heaviness on the inside. He knew God had forgiven him, but he couldn't forgive himself. On the outside, he looked fine, he was happy, but on the inside, he had this sense of shame, guilt, like he had to settle for second best.
One day, a minister that he respected, pulled him to the side and said, "Whatever is holding you back, whatever lie is keeping you from rising higher, today that power is being broken. God is about to release you to a new level of your destiny". This man began to weep and weep. All the guilt, the shame, the heaviness that he had allowed to become a part of his life, it suddenly lifted off of him. It was like a chain was broken, a stronghold came down.
For years, he had allowed the accuser to pile on the shame, tell him, "You don't deserve it," "You blew it," "Sit on the sidelines". God showed up and said, "I have the final say, and I say, not 'shame on you,' but 'shame off you.'" In that moment, he was changed.
Maybe, like him, you know God has forgiven you, but you still have this sense of unworthiness, like you don't deserve it, you could never reach your highest potential. Friends, that shame has held you back long enough. Today God has removed the reproach. Today the chains have been broken, burdens have been lifted. God is saying, "Shame off of you".
Now, you have to get in agreement. Quit listening to the accusing voices. Quit believing the lies that you have to settle for second best. Nothing you've done is a surprise to God. He's not up in the heavens, scratching his head, saying, "Oh, man, I didn't see that last mistake coming. He threw me off". No, God had the mercy before you made the mistake. He had the solution before you had the problem. Why don't you shake off the shame, shake off the guilt? This is a new day. The reproach has been rolled away.
Here's a key: don't let one negative event become your identity. Don't let one failure, a divorce, a bankruptcy, an addiction, become who you are. It's easy to take all the blame, let it consume you. Before long, you become known as "The man who blew his marriage," "The woman that was abused," "The young person that has the addiction". No, that's what you did. That's not who you are. That's what happened to you. That is not your identity.
The enemy would love to stick these labels on us: "Addicted," "Unfaithful," "Divorced," "Bad parent". Don't believe those lies. You may struggle with an addiction, but you are not an addict. What you do does not change your identity. You are still a child of the Most High God. You may have failed in some area of your life, we all have, but you're not a failure. You may have had some bad breaks, but you are not a victim.
When those thoughts of guilt and shame try to relabel you, you have to remind yourself, "I am not who people say I am. I am not who circumstances say I am. I am who God says I am. God says I am approved, I am accepted, I am valuable, I am a masterpiece".
In the scripture, names had a lot more meaning and significance than they have today. Isaac had a son, and he named him Jacob. "Jacob" means "Trickster, swindler, deceiver". Every time someone said, "Hello, Jacob," they were saying, "Hello trickster". "Good morning, Jacob"; "Good morning, con man". "It's time to go to school, Jacob"; "Time to go to school, cheater". He had heard this so long, he didn't know any better. He became exactly what people called him.
For years he was told, "You're a con man". He conned his brother Esau out of his inheritance. "You're a cheater". He cheated his uncle, went around tricking people. Later in life, Jacob got tired of living like that. One night, he went down to the brook to get alone with God. An angel appeared unto him in the form of a man. The angel asked Jacob what his name was. He said, "I am Jacob". He was saying, "I am a cheater, I am a deceiver, I am dishonest". The angel didn't say, "You're right, Jacob. You've lived a really terrible life. You ought to be ashamed of yourself".
The angel said, "You are not Jacob". He was saying, "You are not a deceiver. You may have let people talk you into that, but that is not your true identity". The angel told Jacob, "God has a new name for you. Instead of Jacob, you will now be called Israel". "Israel" means "Prince with God". God took this man that had lived a life of dishonesty, gone around cheating people. Instead of giving him what he deserved, instead of shaking his finger, saying, "Shame on you, Jacob," God said, "Shame off you, Jacob. You're my son. I have destined you to leave your Mark in your generation, not in disgrace, not as a failure. I've called you to be a prince. I've called you to reign in life".
First thing God had to do was remove the reproach. God had to get the shame off of him. Are you wearing any negative labels today? Have you let circumstances, failures, or even people put a label on you that says, "Not valuable," "Not worthy," "Addicted," "Bad parent," "Blew his marriage," "Didn't raise his children right," "Doesn't deserve to be blessed"? Friends, this is what grace is all about. None of us deserve it, but God says, "I'm going to bless you anyway. I know your true identity. I breathed my life into you".
You may feel like Jacob. You've made some poor choices. You could easily live with that sense of shame, but God, in effect, is changing our names today to "Prince," to "Princess," to "Redeemed," to "Forgiven," to "Highly favored people". Jacob could've easily told the angel, "I don't see how God could ever make me a prince. I've made so many bad choices". No, he accepted it into his spirit. He agreed with what God said. In fact, he told the angel, "I'm not leaving here until you bless me". He was saying, "I may not deserve it, but since the shame has been rolled away, I'm asking for favor. I'm asking for new levels. I'm asking for the fullness of my destiny".
God didn't say, "Jacob, who do you think you are? I'm not going to bless you. You know the life you've lived". God said, "Jacob, I like your boldness. I like the fact that you shook off the shame. You got rid of the guilt. Now you're ready to step up to who I've created you to be". You live like that, God will bless you in amazing ways. Even if you're still struggling in an area, there is no shame to ask for help. Sometimes we think we're supposed to be perfect. We can't let anybody know we have a bad habit, an addiction, this struggle. We'd be embarrassed. No, don't let shame keep you isolated. Real healing begins when we get honest.
The scripture says, "Confess your faults, one to one another, and you will be healed". Some things, you can't overcome on your own. You need somebody to stand in faith with you. I'm not saying that you have to announce it, but you can find a person that you can trust to walk with you through it. There's something about getting it out in the open. Don't let the fear of what other people think keep you from your miracle.
I've learned everybody is dealing with something. The people that you think have it all together, look fine on the outside, they're good at pretending. Everyone has issues. It's easy to hide things and only let people see what we want them to see. The same person that comes to church on Sunday and waves to you so friendly, on Monday, if you cut them off in traffic, they may wave to you with one finger in the air and not saying, "One way, Jesus". The other person comes out.
Even in the scripture, some of the heroes of faith, they all had their weaknesses. One day, Peter was preaching to thousands, telling a crippled man to rise and walk. Another day, he was cursing people out, denying that he knew Jesus. One day, David was defeating a giant, leading God's people. Another day, he was committing adultery, having the lady's husband killed. He was so ashamed of himself, he tried to hide it for a year. Finally got it out in the open and confessed his faults, God restored him. One day, Noah was building an ark, saving his family. Another day, he was getting drunk, running around naked.
You think you have issues? You have nothing to be ashamed of. Here's another thought. Most likely, the things you're struggling with didn't start with you. They were passed down. Now this is your opportunity to put an end to it. You can be the one to break the negative cycle in your family. The first step, shake off the shame. Don't be embarrassed. Don't try to hide it. You don't have to go through life pretending. If you'll get honest, go to God and ask him for help, find a friend to stick with you in the faith, you can overcome anything that's holding you back. The forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you.
I received a letter from a teenage girl that lives in another state. She told how she struggled with anorexia. She wouldn't hardly eat anything. She got to where she was skin and bones. On top of that, she was cutting herself. It's the only way she could find relief from the pain she felt on the inside. She came from a well-respected family, was too embarrassed to tell anyone. She felt ashamed of who she was, guilty for injuring herself. She knew it was wrong, but she kept hearing the voices, "You're not valuable. You're no good. Look at you".
That's what the enemy loves to do, heap on the guilt, the shame. He knows it will keep us from our destiny, and she got to the point where she wouldn't look anyone in the eyes. She was so beaten down. One day, she heard me on TV talking about how God will heal your hurts, he'll give you beauty for ashes, how there's no shame in being honest in going to God and asking for help. She made a decision that day that she wasn't going to pretend anymore. She told her parents what was going on. They got her the help she needed.
Long story short, today she's not only healthy, whole, free, but she's a counselor helping other young people that are struggling in that same situation. That's what happens when you shake off the shame. God will take your scars and turn them into stars. He'll use you to help others. Maybe you're struggling in an area right now. The next time you hear that voice whispering, "Shame on you," instead of believing that lie, beating yourself up, getting depressed, why don't you rise up and say, "No, shame off me"?
If you'll start shaking off the guilt, the shame, then you can enter into your Promised Land. That's when you'll see the healing, the breakthrough, the new levels. Some people are living with a sense of shame because something that happened that wasn't even their fault. They were mistreated, growing up. Somebody took advantage of them. The way the enemy twists things, he'll to try to convince you it was your fault, you deserved it, "If you would've been better that wouldn't have happened". Don't believe those lies.
You can't help how someone treated you when you were younger. If they did you wrong, the problem wasn't with you. The problem was with them. God said he will be your vindicator. God saw what happened. He saw the injustice. You may think, "Nobody knows what I've endured. Nobody knows the hurt, the shame, the pain," but God knows. He saw every person that lifted a finger against you. He saw every lonely night, every tear, every hurt. God said in Isaiah 54, "You will forget the shame of your youth. You will not remember the reproach". God is going to pay you back for that injustice in such a way that you don't even remember what happened. It's not going to be on the forefront of your mind. He's going to make your life so blessed, so rewarding, so fulfilling, you won't even think about those people that hurt you.
Now do your part: forgive the people that did you wrong. As long as you continue to dwell on it, you're allowing them to continue to hurt you. Let it go. What they did, did not change your identity. You're still a masterpiece. You're still wearing a crown of favor. You're still destined to do great things. Why don't you take off the old labels that say "Damaged," "Mistreated," "Abused"? Put on some new labels: "Accepted," "Approved," "Valuable," "Masterpiece". When you do that, God promises, you will not only forget the shame of your past, but he takes it a step further.
Isaiah 61, he said, "Instead of your former shame, you shall have a twofold recompense. Instead of dishonor and reproach, you will possess double what you forfeited. You may have had some unfair things happen, but stay in faith. Because of that injustice, God is going to pay you back double. Because of what happened, the person that walked out and broke your heart, the people that mistreated you, made you feel ashamed, that did not go unnoticed. God saw it. He's going to pay you back with double the joy, double the peace, double the honor, double the fulfillment. Your life is going to be richer because or in spite of that injustice.
Now, this promise won't do us any good if we sit back ashamed, guilty, beating ourselves up. Put your shoulders back. Hold your head up high. Nothing that was done to you, nothing that you've done, has changed your identity. You are still a child of the Most High God. His plans for you are still for good and not evil. You may have had some bad breaks, but, really, those setbacks were a setup for God to bring you out with double.
I know a lady that always struggled with her self-worth. She never felt like she was good enough. This insecurity came from being born out of wedlock. Her mother and father weren't married. As a child, she saw on her birth certificate the little box that was checked that said, "Illegitimate". That phrase became ingrained in her thinking. All through her childhood, her teenage years, she felt inferior. Any time she tried to move forward, she'd hear voices whispering, "You weren't wanted," "You're not valuable," "There's something wrong with you". She went around with this sense of shame, unworthiness. She was wearing the label "Illegitimate," "Not up to par".
One day I was talking about how our worth and value doesn't come from people. It comes from God. She said, "It was like something exploded on the inside". Instead of believing those lies that she should be ashamed, that she has no value, she started reprogramming her thinking: "I am not an accident," "I am not a mistake," "I've been handpicked by almighty God," "I am fearfully and wonderfully made". Her attitude was "No matter what my birth certificate says, I know I am legitimate. The Most High God breathed his life into me". Today she is living a free, blessed, confident, faith-filled life. Just like God promised, she doesn't remember the shame of her youth.
Are you carrying around any guilt, shame, heaviness? Friends, this is your day to be free. The reproach has been rolled away. The door is open, but you have to walk out of it. Take off the negative labels. When the enemy whispers, "Shame on you," answer right back, "No, shame off me. I've been forgiven, I've been redeemed, I am valuable". If you'll do this, I believe and declare every chain is being broken. God is going to pay you back double for that injustice. You're going to enter into your Promised Land and become everything God's created you to be, in Jesus's name.