Rev. Kuiper is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
The various Hebrew and Greek nouns translated shame and ashamed agree that shame is a painful feeling or emotion caused by the consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. The verb means to bring shame or cause to feel shame. The word is often found in context with the terms confusion of face and being confounded. Shame is not only a feeling or an emotion, but it is also a state or sphere in which one may find himself. Also, these terms have a strong eschatological emphasis, relating to one’s hope.
Scripture is replete with references to the shamefulness of the unbeliever. Jeremiah complains of those in his day: “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush” (Jer. 6:15). Jesus teaches in Luke 9:26 that “whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my works, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory.” Those whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things, and whose end is destruction “glory in their shame.” The very things for which they will be judged they boast of! No, they cannot blush! We are not to have company with those who do not obey the Bible, that they may be ashamed (II Thess. 3:14) and perhaps be brought to repentance.
He that puts his trust in the Lord shall never be ashamed (Ps. 31:1). “They shall not be ashamed in the evil time…” (Ps. 37:19). “And hope maketh not ashamed” (Rom. 5:5). If any one suffers because he is a Christian, “Let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (I Pet. 4:16). The book with the most occurrences of the word shame is the Book of Psalms. There we find the authors, and us, singing, both that shame may cover the heads of the enemies of God, and that shame not come to us who believe on Him. “Let the proud be ashamed … but let me not be ashamed of my hope” (Ps. 119:78, 116).
Faithful prophets, apostles, and pastors find nothing in the gospel that they would like to change or be silent about; that’s their faithfulness. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). In jail at Rome, Paul writes the Philippians that nothing can put to shame his earnest expectation and hope; whether he lives or dies, it’s all the same to him, for Christ will be magnified in him (Phil. 1:20). The apostle instructs the young Timothy never to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, but be ready to suffer affliction (II Tim. 1:8); he can never be put to shame because he knows whom he has believed (v. 12). Finally, Paul’s word to Timothy and every preacher is to study! “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).
Above all others, Jesus Christ suffered shame; for thirty-three and a half years He, the Son of God in our flesh, was shamefully treated. He prayed (through David), “Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee” (Ps. 69:19). In Hebrews 12:2 we read that Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame. We take that to mean that His nakedness, the words cast against Him, all of it, could not swerve Him from His mission. He despised it as nothing compared to the glory that had been shown Him on the mount of transfiguration, and that awaited Him after His ascension.
Two passages we simply present without trying to explain the incomprehensible. “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). And, “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16).“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (I John 2:28).