Do you wrestle with feelings that you’re not doing enough or that you’re a screw-up? Then you’re in the right place! Be sure to grab the printable download of these Bible verses for guilt and shame.
I worry sometimes that my youngest of five children may not receive the best of me.
A flood of shame and fear hit me recently when I signed him up for preschool because I’m planning on going back to work. I had homeschooled his older siblings. His childhood is going to be different than theirs.
Like many (most?) parents, I’ve battled with intense emotions ever since I heard my oldest child’s first cry, on through every decision about my kids’ lives. Impossible questions linger regularly: Am I doing enough? Am I enough?
Not only parents have these experiences. Humans face guilt and shame in every stage of life. They are triggered by issues big and small. For many of us, they are rooted deeply in our pasts.
The road to healing can be a long and complex one. Meditation on Bible verses about guilt and shame can be a helpful technique along that journey.
Related post: 10 Bible Verses About Stress, for Moms Who Need a Break
Understanding Shame vs. Guilt
Before we dive into scriptures to overcome guilt and shame, let’s define our terms. Shame and guilt can be used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing–whether we’re dealing with our modern English understanding or the biblical texts.
Brene Brown, who has devoted her career to researching shame and is a leading authority on the subject, puts it this way:
Based on my research and the research of other shame researchers, I believe that there is a profound difference between shame and guilt. I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful—it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.
I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging—something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.
“Shame vs. Guilt,” brenebrown.com
I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure. I think the fear of disconnection can make us dangerous.
This understanding is supported by the Scriptures. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul uses the term “godly sorrow” to describe what sounds like guilt: “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” (verse 11).
Shame and all of its ramifications are prevalent throughout the story of the Bible, as humans wrestle with their worthiness before their Creator. Jesus takes their shame upon himself so they can stand healed and whole before him: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Those were some bonus verses 🙂
My observation is that when people are talking about things like “mom guilt,” what they are really referring to is shame. Actual guilt happens when you screw up but you want to do better next time. Sometimes you can be feeling both at the same time.
Keep these principles in mind as we explore some more Bible verses that address guilt and shame.
How Bible Verses for Guilt & Shame Can Be Helpful
Memorizing, praying over, journaling, and discussing Bible verses can help transform the way you think about guilt and shame. While these aren’t the only tools available when it comes to such matters of the heart and mind, they are a great place to start. Note that, while powerful, these verses only scratch the surface.
Here are three categories of scriptures that address guilt and shame:
The more I dug into shame and guilt in the Bible, it became apparent that the first step to healing is confession. All this means is to be open and vulnerable–whether dealing with guilt or shame.
Confession is being honest with yourself, with God, and with other believers about what you’re thinking and feeling.
2. Being Enough
That feeling of “not enough” or self-loathing is shame rearing its ugly head. The Bible can remind you that you are “enough” in God’s eyes.
3. Moving Forward with Faith
The Bible can help us remember to live in faith instead of shame and guilt. When we feel guilty because of our mistakes, we can make better choices in love and move forward (a.k.a repentance). When we feel ashamed, we can be reminded of our true identity and worth.
God’s grace is sufficient in addressing our guilt and our shame in all their forms; he fills in the gaps where we fall short. And because of this, our hearts can be at peace.
11 Bible Verses to Overcome Guilt & Shame
As you read and meditate on these verses, consider how they might help you with confession, being “enough,” and living in faith.
1. James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
2. 1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
3. Proverbs 28:13
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
4. Colossians 2:13–14
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
5. 1 John 2:1b
But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
6. Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…
7. Hebrews 9:14
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
8. 1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
9. 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
10. Hebrews 10:22
[L]et us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
11. Philippians 4:6–7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Want to keep these Bible verses for guilt and shame handy? You can access them and other Printable Bible verses for moms!
As I noted above, these scriptures only scratch the surface when it comes to dealing with guilt and shame. But they’re a place to start. Please study them in the literary, historical, and cultural contexts they were written in to get a richer understanding!
Leave a comment: Do you wrestle with guilt or shame? What helps you?
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