A young girl was once asked how she was able to sell a record number of Girl Scout cookies. She answered, “You have to look people in the eye and make them feel guilty.”
Sometimes we can manipulate people by making them feel guilty or ashamed. This, of course, is unethical. However, there are times when making people feel ashamed is actually a good thing. 2 Thess.3:14 says, “Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed.” When someone is caught up in a serious sin, sometimes the first step in restoring them is to make them understand that they are guilty. Their feelings of shame lead them to repentance. Think about some of the times in your life when you have had to make a change in your behavior. Did it not come after you experienced some shame about things that you had said or done?
We live in some dangerous times, times in which we are told that shame is always a bad thing and that people should never be made to feel ashamed for any reason. This goes against common sense and Scripture.
Let’s be extremely cautious about how we use this biblical principle! But let’s not underestimate the way that God uses shame to bring people back to Him.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”—2 Cor.7:10-11.