May 5, 2006 • By Ed Wrather
The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, but the unjust knows no shame. - Zephaniah 3:5.
The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. - Hosea 4:7.
The news reports have been streaming in today about the smokers at the University of Colorado at Boulder. There is an annual protest or party about the use of marijuana. The University has become more imaginative each year in efforts to discourage this event. Last year, they turned on the in-ground sprinkler system; however, the students just stepped on the sprinklers. This year, they posted warnings that participants would be photographed and that, "Trespassers may be summoned or referred to the office of judicial affairs." The warnings were not a hoax and there are many photos that are now posted online of the participants with a reward being offered for identification. The University webpage is located at http://www.colorado.edu/police/420_Photo_Album/index.htm (The webpage is no longer available when I checked 08.27.13) and the title is "Farrand Field 4-20-2006” with the following statements just prior to many photos, "The University is offering a reward for the identification of any of the individuals pictured below."
Listening to the statements from some of those attending the event, I heard outrage, anger, and threats of retaliation through the ACLU. One student claimed he was not actually smoking pot but just a cigarette. The situation reminded me somewhat of when I was fourteen years old and was publicly identified as being one of three students who had been smoking cigarettes. It was after a marching band event at another city on a Saturday where we were allowed to attend a collegiate football game. We did smoke at the football game and unknown to us the superintendent of our school was watching us smoke with his binoculars. We had a school assembly on Monday morning and the entire school was told about our smoking. It was not against school policy, and at that time it was also not illegal, and our fathers were all smokers. Personally, I had not thought there was anything wrong with it until that moment at the assembly. The emotion I felt at the time I still remember very clearly. That emotion was shame.
The students involved in the event at the University of Colorado may face serious consequences for their actions. They could be expelled from college, arrested for trespassing, arrested for violation of law, and prevented from being able to receive any governmental grants or loans. For most of those involved, it was probably a fun thing to do and they gave little thought to any possible consequences. Possibly because there had been very few consequences in the past. However, just because judgment has not yet come does not mean that it is not coming and at some point, it will arrive. If judgment comes upon them would they at that point experience shame? Or, through the remainder of their lives, will they just be angry at being caught, angry at having their actions exposed?
When you sin, are you ashamed? When you are confronted with your sin, are you just angry at being caught and at the person exposing you? When you sin, and if you experience the emotion of shame it means that your conscience is very much alive and well. You should immediately turn away from that sin and turn to God through the mercies of your Lord by confessing that what you have done was wrong (1 John 1:9). However, if you can sin and never experience the emotion of shame it may be because one of two possibilities.
One possibility of not experiencing the emotion of shame when you sin is that you have never received Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and been born again. And, you have rejected Jesus as your Savior again, and again, and again until your heart has become so cold and calloused that you feel nothing when you sin; because you can no longer sense or feel the Holy Spirit drawing you to Jesus. If you do not know Jesus as your personal Savior then, the Holy Spirit is not residing within you and you do not have the new nature that comes through salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The second possibility is that you may at one point have made a decision for Christ but began to sin again, again, and again - until your heart has become so cold, and calloused that you feel nothing when you sin. The solution for both conditions is to turn to God through Christ asking for His mercy and forgiveness while turning away from your sin.
(Some previous devotionals written about hardness of heart include: What would it take? 07.18.01 and Hearing and Doing 03.15.01 located in the archives at http://www.theburningbush.org/devmaraug01)