A Shame to be Ashamed of
Jeremiah 2:26
As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests…

There is, as Paul tells us (2 Corinthians 7.), a godly sorrow and a sorrow of the world; a godly sorrow working out a repentance never to be regretted, and a sorrow of the world which works out death. So there is a shame and humiliation which is profitable in the right way and to the highest degree, when a man comes into all the horrors of self-discovery, and is ready to declare himself, feeling it no exaggeration, as the chief of sinners. Such a shame is indeed the highest of blessings, since it gives something like a complete understanding of what human nature owes to the cleansing blood of Christ, and to the renewing power of the Spirit. But there is also shame and humiliation such as the jailer at Philippi felt when he suspected his prisoners were gone, and degradation was impending over him at the hand of his masters. It is to such a shame that our attention is directed here. The shame of a thief, not for the wrong he has done, but because he is detected in the doing of it. Israel, we see, is being dealt with in very plain language. Already the nation which God had so favored, and from which he had expected so much, has been spoken of as lower than an idolater. And now it is likened to the thief in the moment when his knavery is discovered. Consider, then, as here suggested -

I. WHY THE SINNER SHOULD BE ASHAMED. The thief, of course, ought to be ashamed, and ashamed whether he is caught or not. He ought to come into such a state of mind as to acknowledge his offence and make restitution, even when otherwise his offence might remain undiscovered. He should be ashamed because he has done wrong; because he has broken a commandment of God; because he lives on what has been won by the industry and toil of his neighbors; because, in addition, he is robbing his neighbors of what benefit should have come to them from his own industry and toil. Some have enough to make them bow their heads in despair of ever being able to make restitution; and it is just when we thus begin to estimate the sense of shame that should fill the thoughts of the thief that we also come to have a clear idea of what a universal feeling amongst mankind shame should be. "The thief should be thoroughly ashamed of himself, you say, in all possible ways. True, he ought. But now take to mind the home-pressing words of the apostle, "Wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things" (Romans 2:1). Nay, there may be more to be said for the thief than for thee. Only too often he has a bad start, and no real chance of getting out of bad associations. He may get so hemmed in with temptations as to find it very difficult to resist. And in any case, the thief has no more cause to Be ashamed of his theft than any other sinner for his own particular mode of self-indulgence. God does not draw the distinctions which we are compelled to do, between wrongs that are crimes and wrongs that are not crimes. His distinctions are made on altogether different principles - principles which abide. If the thief has wronged his neighbor in one way, be sure of this, that you have wronged him in another. If the thief has sinned against God in one way, you have sinned against him in another. You may go through the world without the slightest fear of anything leaping to the light such as will bring the detective's tap upon your shoulder, and nevertheless you have yet to be bowed in unspeakable bitterness of shame because you have been defrauding God and missing the great end of life. What is wanted is that all of us should come to ourselves - being guided by that unerring Spirit which guides into all truth, and self being revealed by the light of the cross and of eternity.

II. WHY THE SINNER ACTUALLY IS ASHAMED. Discovery is what he dreads; discovery puts him in utter confusion. Discovery is disgrace and ruin, so far as his future relation to men is concerned. Henceforth he passes into a suspected and avoided class; he has test the mark of respectability and confidence. The sad thing is that, in the eyes of a large part of mankind, discovery seems to make all the difference. One may do a great deal of wrong with social impunity, if only there is cleverness enough to keep on the hither boundary of what is reckoned criminal. Those who are most serenely indifferent to the Law of God will fall into all sorts of sins, real and far-reaching evils, rather than transgress a certain social code. It is not so long ago since the duel ceased to be a part of the social code of England; and what a curious standard of honor was involved in such a practice! There are countries still where a man is disgraced if he refuses to fight; if he fights and kills his man it is reckoned no shame at all. The most immoral and debauched of men are yet curiously sensitive to what they choose to consider points of honor. People will plunge over head and ears into debt, and run into the wildest extravagance, that they may flourish a little longer in the social splendor which they know they have not the honest means to maintain. They feel it is a greater disgrace to sink in the world than to he unable to pay their debts. How needful it is for the Christian to take up all positions which he feels to be right - right according to the Divine will, no matter how much he may be exposed to the reproach of folly, Quixotism, and fanaticism I Let us pray that we may ever have a godly shame when the light of heaven is thrown on us, and we are contrasted with God in his holiness and Jesus in his perfect manhood. Let us equally pray that we may never Be ashamed of Jesus. It is a harder thing than many seem to think, even though they are constantly acknowledging in hymn and prayer what they owe to Jesus in the way of gratitude and service. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets,

WEB: As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets;

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