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10 Scriptures to Beat Back Shame

I sat in my living room with a gathering of women I had come to know after throwing my doors open to host a small study group. The women ranged in age from the new-mom stage to the grandmother-of-many stage. The word “shame” landed in my living room with a profound yet somehow silent crash. It had slid matter-of-factly off the lips of one of the young women in the group, who noted that it was a tool wielded in the hands of the enemy to keep people from drawing near to God. She added the thought that it also deftly served as a silencer, separating relationships, inhibiting intimacy, and quieting the Christian testimony. We sat quietly, each suddenly aware of our own encounters with shame and the potentially silencing effects that it may have had upon our lives, and our faith construct.

Shame is defined as a painful feeling of humiliation or distress, a loss of respect, esteem, or dishonor.

Contained within the definition of the word shame is a roadmap to what human beings experience when they encounter personal or corporate shame. It indicates that shame will carry with it a feeling of pain, connecting to the emotions of a human being in such a manner that they undergo humiliation and distress. The definition further clarifies that the impact of enduring shame ripples into an individual’s community, impacting entire cultures and society through the losses that come with dishonor. Diminished respect and esteem within a societal construct can lead to silencing individuals and groups within their community.

Theologian Henri Nouwen understood that the ability of a community and humanity at-large to thrive is directly related to the exchange of individual and corporate shame for the healing of wounded hearts and souls. He writes, “When our wounds cease to be a source of shame and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.” The simple adages “hurt people hurt people” and “healed people heal people” express a return of dignity and voice that comes when shame is exchanged for redemption and restoration.

The pages of Scripture are filled with God-breathed words written for the express purpose of inviting mankind to know God and enter a transformative relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the antidote to shame. His words recorded in the Gospel of John confirm the foundations of what my young friend unearthed that morning as we gathered: the enemy seeks to steal, and Jesus offers the fullness of life.

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

The mistakes and missteps of our past and the broken actions endured by others may have led us into a wounded place of shame, lack of worth, and the silencing of our voices. Here we find ourselves in enemy territory. Jesus offers us the opportunity to exchange these wounds and the humiliation and distress contained within for the beauty of a life lived to the full. In doing so, we can become healed people who heal others.

Whatever the wounds of your past, the Bible offers words of healing and hope for your future. Here are ten scriptures to help you to beat back shame, reclaim your voice, and step into the fullness of life that Jesus intends for you.

Psalms to Pray Aloud to Beat Back Shame

Praying words straight from the Bible is a powerful and life-giving way to bring your hurt to God when you are struggling with the humiliation and distress that can come from brokenness and dishonor. God sees our heart, hear our words, and understands our groaning. The Psalms offer biblical context to the pain and suffering experienced as we process through the wounds and mistakes that can open us up to shame.

“In you Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me Lord, my faithful God.” Psalm 31:1-15

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130: 1-5

Verses to Affirm Your Value, Dignity, and Worth to God

Scripture conveys themes of value, dignity, and worth from the Spirit of God hovering over the waters in Genesis to the finished work of Jesus on the cross. The singular most powerful tool in beating back shame in the life of a Christian is a clear understanding of their identity in Christ and their inherent value as human beings designed in the image of God.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139: 13-16

“His banner over me is love” Song of Songs 2:4b

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

Scripture to Declare Redemption and Freedom from Shame

The Apostle Paul encouraged the believers at Ephesus to put on the full armor of God in order to stand strong against the “devil’s schemes.” He writes, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6). Knowing and declaring biblical truth over our life is a powerful action in beating back shame and standing against the enemy’s plans to steal and destroy.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” Isaiah 50:7

Find Your Voice to Beat Back Shame

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:11a

As you beat back shame, reclaim your voice, and step into the fullness of life that Jesus intends for you, the natural by-product is that you long for others to find the same freedom that you have found. Healed people heal people.

Throughout the gospels, Jesus encountered women and men who bore the marks of the humiliation and distress that can come from brokenness and dishonor. They walked with the wounds of shame. Though the words of Jesus brought conviction, they always pointed toward freedom, hope, and healing.

The gospel of John records one such woman alone at a well, friendless and ashamed. Jesus sat with her and, revealing the wounds of her past, offered words of healing and hope for her future. Beating back her shame, Jesus restored her voice,

“Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back into town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” John 4:28-29

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

Stacey Monaco has been speaking and writing since her first unpublished children’s book in the fifth grade. Her journey as a writer has taken her from the depths of blue water exploration, to the simplicity of crafting words to encourage and educate in the areas of loss, legacy, leadership, and living life passionately with purpose. Stacey received her Masters Degree in Christian Ministry and Leadership from Talbot School of Theology, and has worked in many roles from slinging coffee to pastoring women. To find more on living the Christian life with intention, head over to her website at

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