The shame felt by Peter is palpable in the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest. Only hours earlier Peter had boldly declared that while the other disciples may betray Jesus, he never would. And so it was, before the rooster crowed twice, Peter had done three times what he said he would never do. In Luke’s Gospel we are told, no sooner had the third denial left Peter’s lips when Christ made His way across the courtyard and looked at him. Peter began to crumble within, went outside, and wept bitterly.
We all know what it is to embarrass or shame ourselves before others. We have been rash with our words; our behaviour has been unbecoming. We wish we could turn back the clock and start again. But there is another kind of shame that is often experienced. It is not caused by us, but by someone we share a close connection to. We feel embarrassed by a parent, or spouse, or child, or sibling, or friend. We cringe at something they have said or done or due to their appearance or mannerisms – why is my husband so rude; why does my mum dress like that; why is my son unmotivated, why does my friend act the fool.
The book of Proverbs speaks of the shame an unruly child brings to parents. A friend once told me that he felt like hiding when his dad would pick him up from school – this was when dad had decided to grow his hair long and was driving around in a big old rust bucket. We can adjust our own behaviour to avoid embarrassment and shame, but what can we do when we are not the cause. Some thoughts –
Render what is owed: irrespective of how we feel, relationships come with obligations. Embarrassment does not diminish responsibility. Eph 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord”……..v33, “let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Eph 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”. Eph 6:1-2, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (2) “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,” which is the first commandment with promise”. Rom 13:7, “Render therefore to all their due”……… v8, “owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law”.
Speak the truth: if warranted, raise the issue as a cause of concern. Prov 27:5-6, “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. (6) Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Honesty and love compel us to speak up – to speak up in the right way, at the right time, with the right motive. Speak the truth in love says the apostle. Hard love can be painful but necessary. We may not get the response we would like, but ours is to care enough to act and leave the outcome to God.
Pray without ceasing: it can be easy to complain to someone or rebuke them, as such, how often do we overlook prayer for them? Commit the issue to the Lord and pray that He would bring understanding and conviction to the offending person. Ideally through a sermon or reading the Word or a conversation, they would see themselves as in a mirror. What is obvious and obnoxious to others, would become obvious and obnoxious to them. By God’s grace it will motivate them to change.
Are we one another’s keepers? Yes we are, especially those to whom we are close. Let us watch out for each other patiently, lovingly, and sincerely, remembering that we may also make others cringe.