Shame is not exactly guilt and guilt is not really shame. Guilt says "I MADE a mistake." Shame says "I AM a mistake."
Neither are totally useless in one's life. In fact, both are very helpful if embraced properly. When guilt alerts you that you've done something wrong then it's operating like a gracious internal alarm clock that's waking you up to address the wrong.
"Oh my goodness, I've caused a problem somewhere. Therefore, I should bring it before the Lord and agree with Him that I did something wrong, accept his grace and mercy, and then go and make it right if I can with the person or the situation."
There, now that's not so bad is it?
Guilt becomes a major problem, though, when there is no forgiveness or covering or relief from the wrong. Thankfully, in God's loving plan there is always a way for a wrong to be covered and even redeemed. So, problem solved.
As for shame, shame isn't completely horrific either if it maybe keeps us from showing up to work naked. Shame might actually help you realize that if you follow through with that desire that your reputation might become one of a pervert and most likely you'll lose your job immediately (unless you came on that special day Come-to-work-naked-day.). So, if shame keeps you from future harm then so be it. That's not a horrible use of shame.
However, shame can be a deadly force. In fact, shame is one of the greatest tools in spiritual warfare. The enemy says, "Let shame destroy you." The enemy wants you to believe that you are a complete and utter and fundamental mistake.
Shame has the power to destroy one's life. Shame says, "I don't deserve love," "I can't handle life." "I won't be able to follow through with this very difficult task given to me by my company."
Shame basically and woefully cries, "I am not worthy, I am definitely not worthy."
Listen, as followers of Christ, we know that we don't deserve the love of God. We know that. However, God's not calling us to forever wallow in the self pity of our imperfection. The fact that God calls us His own and loves us and sent Jesus to die for us wonderfully shifts the shame paradigm of our lives.
No longer are we to cry "I'm not worthy" as our life's mantra. Now we're encouraged to cry out joyfully "He is worthy!"
Humility, yes. Shame, no. Worship, yes. Self-loathing, no.
The Christian embraces the fact that he or she is not ABLE to do all that God wants on his or her own but a Christian needs not be paralyzed by fundamental thoughts of unworthiness.
Shame destroys. Shame limits. Shame plays dirty.
Don't let shame destroy you. Identify it in your life. Call it out. Ask the Lord to help you overcome. The sobering truth is that there are areas of your life that have suffered due to unnecessary shame. Don't allow it to go on any longer.
Shame is not the answer. Love is.
You Are Loved!