My mother gave me a briefcase as the present for my fourth birthday. Why? Because I asked for one, of course.
When my mother wanted to know what a four-year-old would do with a briefcase, I replied, “It’s for all of my important documents.” Who knew that I could top this birthday request the following year for my fifth birthday when I asked for a fireproof safe for – you guessed it -“all of my important documents.” I still can’t recall what those important childhood documents were, but I’m sure they were significant at the time.
Preschool children so often have an unwavering sense of self; they know who they are even if they can’t articulate it. I knew I wanted a briefcase even though I couldn’t read. And children are so rarely ashamed. Which might explain why, as a toddler, I had the tendency to streak around the house naked, particularly when we had company.
Psalm 25:3 comes from one of King David’s psalms – a song lyric written by the most famous of all the ancient Jewish kings. In the song, David sings about finding hope and trusting God even in difficult times and around difficult people, a theme that David returned to again and again in his songs throughout his life. In this line, David holds on to his confidence that following God will not bring him disgrace or shame.
The fear of shame and embarrassment is a powerful one, and this fear was a significant spiritual stumbling block for me when I was in college and early in my career. I so desperately wanted the respect of my peers, my professors, and my bosses, but many of these people made me feel that a Christian was not worthy of respect. While I never lost my faith, I often hid my relationship with Christ, and in many ways I ran from the life I knew Christ wanted me to lead, all to earn the respect of men and women who didn’t deserve it. Above all, I wanted to avoid being disgraced for believing in and trusting Jesus.
But King David reassures us that those who follow the Lord will not be disgraced. We do not have to fear any shame from people who may not understand our relationship with Christ or the choices we make as Christians. The Lord can deal with their hearts, and the Lord can bring us out of any difficult situation. The scripture goes on to say that disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. As I have seen, shame comes to those who hide and to those who live untruthfully.
When I made a resolution to live my life unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I experienced a new kind of freedom. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t wear Christian t-shirts to work because that wouldn’t be appropriate in that particular environment – but I don’t live my life in fear that someone will find out I’m a Christian.
The scriptures constantly encourage us to come to God like children with a strong “childlike” faith. As Christians, let us also live in the world like children, unafraid to be who we are. Let’s be unafraid to invite friends to church. Let’s be unashamed to act in a way that we know pleases the Lord, even if others do not understand us.
Let’s be willing to be like a child who asks for a briefcase instead of a toy as a birthday present – because we are who we are, and we’re not ashamed.
Rocky Sansom is an actor and college professor. He lives in the city with his wife, Abigail, and their retired racing greyhound, Tennessee, whose serves as a reminder to have child-like enthusiasm for the simple things in life; going for walks, dinner, and playing with toys.