TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Philippians 2:12-20

The times of the Bible were based on an honor and shame social system. Honor and shame are a part of our culture today, but not to the extent of the ancient Mediterranean world. “It did not overly matter how much money one made or what trade a person practiced, but it mattered immensely if one acquitted himself or herself honorably in all things.” We see this system of honor and shame prevalently throughout Scripture (Exodus 20:12; 2 Chronicles 1:11; Psalm 25; Psalm 69:6).

We see in Philippians 3:4-7 that Paul lived the first part of his life to bring honor to himself and his family. In Paul’s former life, he heaped up mountains of honor. Yet, as Paul writes Philippians he is in a place filled with shame: prison. Dr. Brene Brown, an expert in shame studies, says there are three ingredients to heap up shame in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment. Prison is a place where those ingredients are served in vast quantities. But in our text for the day, we see Paul express honor in the midst of shameful surroundings. Why does Paul express such positive emotion in a shameful situation?

In Scripture, we see God working within the honor and shame context, but with one important caveat: God’s people strive to bring honor to God instead of only bringing honor to themselves. This may sound like drudgery, but it is a great gift. Instead of the daily grind of hoarding honor and distinction, we can step off the treadmill and live our lives to honor God.

The way we are discussing honor and shame can be tricky. Living for God may not take away our negative emotions and scars from past traumas quickly, but it does give our pain purpose. Like Paul, making our lives about honoring God can give our pain, suffering, and shame a mission.

In the midst of shame-saturated situations and thoughts, God works for our deliverance. Instead of basing our honor and self-worth on ourselves, let’s focus our renewed minds (Romans 12:2) on bringing God honor.

Today, I will…consider the three ingredients that bring shame: secrecy, silence, and judgment. Are any parts of my life filled with these characteristics?