What’s the difference between guilt and shame?

Guilt and shame are feelings that correspond to how we see ourselves. Guilt is “I’ve done something bad”. Shame is “I am bad”. Guilt and shame are self-loathing emotions. Feelings of guilt or shame can lead you to develop an unhealthy focus on perfection and performance whereby it becomes hard for you to accept failure, particularly when you had expected to exceed. These effects of guilt and shame can drive people to despair and discouragement.

There’s something incredibly liberating about the gospel of God’s grace.

When you measure up to the perfect standard of righteousness in Christ, you no longer need to measure yourself against some other standard. This is the gospel’s offering of a clear conscience.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s testimony:


12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus
1 Timothy 1:12-14


Grace reveals who we are.

Being fully aware of God’s grace in Christ, Paul had no reservation in telling Timothy of his past. When you are conscious that God has made you worthy in Christ, you are less likely to feel guilt and shame. In truth, guilt and shame are incompatible with God’s grace. Like Paul, we can share with others about our sins and failures when we realize our identity isn’t defined by what people think of us, but by what Christ has done for us.

Grace gives us our identity.

Be encouraged to live a life that glorifies this wonderful truth.

© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.