Shame and conviction are two different concepts, but they can be hard to differentiate. Shame can easily masquerade itself as a conviction. In addition, both produce powerful emotional reactions that result in changed behavior. Shame is a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment, while true conviction is a firmly held belief or opinion. Knowing the difference is at the heart of the battle in dealing successfully with addiction. Therefore, it’s essential to understand where the resulting behaviors come out of shame and conviction lead.
In some ways, the effects of shame can be like the effects of erosion. Over the years, water can accumulate and create erosion. For example, the impact of corrosion on a dam is easy to see because the water can tear away the dam’s walls, making a small canyon for the water to escape through.
Matthew 7:26-27 says, “Anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
When the storms of life such as stress, problems at work, or conflict with a spouse arise, the coping abilities a person uses can crumble because addiction provides them with a false sense of mastery. These strong negative emotions can lead to isolation, hiding, denial, division of the self, depression, decreased self-esteem, and feelings of anger towards oneself and others. Shame is an indictment of the person’s self, but vulnerability in trusted relationships can reverse its effects.
Having seen that shame erodes the very fabric of relationships with self and others, what are the results of true conviction? A person receives numerous blessings from living out a life based on genuine trust, yet shame leads to the destruction of relationships. Also, a life based on true conviction leads to strengthened relationships, community, openness, acceptance, union with self, and agreement with Scripture.
Living through true conviction is like building a house upon a rock. The storms of life will come and rage, but a house built on a solid foundation will stand. Matthew 7:24-25 states, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”
This week, begin to listen to and respond to true conviction rather than shame. Shame works to destroy the inner life and the sense of self, just like water quickly erodes a dam once it’s broken. Instead, stop the break and erosion. Rebuild by responding to the true conviction of the Holy Spirit. A solid life happens through confession, openly taking responsibility, and choosing to build a house on Christ, the Solid Rock. When the storms of life rage, remember, it can help to meet with a licensed Christian counselor.