I was reading an unrelated commentary by David Stern the other day and I came across this thought-provoking aside: “pride, and the reverse-sin of embarrassment”.
Is embarrassment a sin?
I’ve not yet seen it specifically mentioned in a biblical sin-list — “Thou shalt not be embarrassed” for example, or “Those evil-doers who are embarrassed”. A quick check of the NIV doesn’t pull up any results for “embarrass” at all.
But then again, if I switch to The Message, I see Luke 9:26 – (Jesus speaking) “If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by.” (also see Mark 8:38)
Ok, so the pie in the sky bit is a little strange, but I’m interested to see what other versions do with this verse. NIV and NASB both say “ashamed of me” (and no, no mention of pie). Aha! A search for “ashamed” brings up all kinds of verses, most notably 2 Timothy 1:7-9 :
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. [Paul is speaking] But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”
(btw, awesome passage talking about the gift of God given to Timothy and what he should do with it now – go read it, it’s great!)
I think I had a wrong image in my head of sin. After all, you put pride on the list (something I know I constantly struggle with) and I start thinking of the 7 deadlys and, obviously, Brad Pitt. Hard to remember sometimes what sin actually is – not just bad things you do, but good things you don’t do, and perhaps even more importantly, your heart’s attitude when you them.
I’ve certainly been too embarrassed of being called a Christian to “testify about our Lord” before, especially in situations where my faith was being mocked. And I’ve been ashamed to be called a Christian because of other Christians too, although I think that’s not all my fault sometimes. (but that’s another discussion)
When my heart isn’t identifying as a follower of Jesus, then there’s something wrong with my heart. Even if I’m afraid, or if I know that the result would be persecution, it doesn’t give me an excuse to lay low and pretend I’m not who I am. That’s denying Him just as much as if I had said it aloud. And therefore, sin.
So is embarrassment sin? In and of itself, I don’t see any biblical backup for that. But when it comes to God, Jesus and other true followers of Jesus – we can’t be ashamed to be identified. Our hearts belong to Him, and as such should always be willing to declare it.