A couple of weeks ago I was reading the book of Jeremiah and was grabbed by the prophet’s assessment of the people in 6:15: “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” I forgot about the verse until a day or two later when I came to Jeremiah 8:12 and the exact same assessment: “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” I’ve been thinking about it on and off since I read it the second time.
What God said through Jeremiah about His people then could also be said about a lot of people today. Think about it. There doesn’t seem to be very much embarrassment today about much of anything. Jeremiah’s observation of “detestable conduct” in the NIV is rendered “disgusting actions” in the New Living Translation.
The reason people are not ashamed is because they don’t think what they are doing is disgusting. They may not be embarrassed, but I am. And I am not only embarrassed myself, I am embarrassed for them. To me disgusting actions demean the person or persons doing them.
It is true that what is detestable or disgusting to one person may not be disgusting or detestable to someone else. I agree that something could be acceptable in one context and not be acceptable in another one. I have no specific actions in mind, but I think things are different in mixed company and when children are present.
The point of Jeremiah’s indictment is the loss of awareness and sensitivity to what is inappropriate and out of place. Many of us have heard and seen so much that is disgusting and detestable we have become desensitized to it. And because of that we are no longer embarrassed by it like we used to be.
I’m not sure how we get it back, but I think we need to do so. We cannot raise other people’s standards, but we can raise our own. We can ask the Lord to help us return to seeing what is disgusting as disgusting, being embarrassed by what is detestable, and blushing because of it.
We can take seriously the call of Romans 12:2 to “not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of [our minds].” And we can commit to accepting the challenge of Philippians 1:27: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
I am embarrassed by the actions of others. But more than that, I am ashamed that I have gotten to the place where I am not more embarrassed by some of the things I say and do. Are you ever ashamed and do you ever blush?
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