A Kick in the Pants
Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:34
I’ve never been what you would call slender, and over the last couple of months, I’ve drifted up a couple of pounds. My clothes still fit though, so I’ve not really noticed it that much. Yesterday however, a buddy and I did a workout for which we had to record ourselves and then submit the video for an online competition. In watching the video afterwards, I saw what everyone else sees every day, which shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did – I’m a little round and I need to lose some weight. Yes, I knew the truth before that, but that video was a metaphorical kick in the pants.
I require this from time to time. My addiction wasn’t one big leap into horrible, destructive behavior. Over 10 or 15 years, I just slid a little bit more each day into the mess. So, when I got to the point where I was diverting pain medications for my own use, it just seemed like normal behavior. Yes, I knew it was wrong, but it wasn’t until someone shown a spotlight on it that I truly saw it. When the proverbial video tape was played back, I got the kick in the pants that I required – My life was a mess and I needed radical change.
This is what I hear in Paul’s tone when I read today’s passage. It’s the fatherly voice of authoritative reprimand, telling the Corinthians – and me – that I need to wake up. I need to sober up. I need to grow up and stop those things I know to be wrong. I should feel shame and guilt for my sin and I must do whatever it takes abandon those things so I don’t feel that way anymore.
We often dismiss shame. We know we’re forgiven for all time, and so we should never feel guilty, right? There is a self-destructive, inappropriate shame, but there are also times when it’s completely appropriate for us to feel terrible about how we’ve hurt others, ourselves, and our relationship with God. Yes, God forgives us when we fail, but if failure is our way of life, then we require Paul’s kick in the pants to shine a light on our lustful, greedy, prideful, angry, and selfishness behaviors, causing us to see them for what they really are. Sometimes we must feel the pain of our shame to abandon the behavior that caused it in the first place.