Then I shall not be put to shame
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
Being put to shame [or not] assumes that some big truth about you will eventually come out into the open. The big truth is that you are either successful, or not.
There are open-ended moments of being put to shame, and from there the soiled reputation and that which gave rise to it can be reversed.
And there is an ultimate being put to shame. Someone outside of yourself will disclose His final evaluation of your life, and that appraisal is your Truth; that evaluation then becomes the primary content for assigning you a public character; and the evaluation and subsequent reputation will decisively influence your enduring well-being and sense of self.
Will I be put to shame? Does your life work, or no? Are you living up to the original purpose of being human, or not? Is the Inventor satisfied with His invention? What has become apparent about the quality of your decisions and actions? What is the official, public assessment of how you are doing? At the end of your days, what is the official, public, enduring assessment of how turned out?
Whether or not I’m put to shame is the important question, despite the current insistence that the only worthwhile evaluation is from within, along the lines of: am I being true to myself? Do I feel like I’m living authentically, that is, in my opinion am I living up to the the standards I set for myself?
I don’t want to overstate. In thinking through the question of appraisal we would move too far away from subjectivity if we didn’t give any credence to Shakespeare’s “to thine own self be true.”
To build on that qualifier: a clear conscience – knowing nothing against ourself – is something that we should strive mightily to maintain. Moreover, there is some wisdom in marching to the beat of your own internal convictions and principles, regardless of others’ opinions. I don’t speak against individualism or eccentricity.
But for a person to value an individualistic sense of authenticity while diminishing the worth of his public reputation is a) a breeding ground for laziness, arrogance, a sense of victimhood; and b) incorrect. It’s an apostolic sentiment to care about aiming “at what is honorable…in the sight of men.”
It’s healthy to dread the thought of being put to shame, that is, of being shown up as having failed in important ways. Of course, this is different from seeming to fail or failing to live up to false expectations.
But let’s put these in context. Presiding over all our self-appraisals and societal categorizations is the disclosure of Heaven’s opinion. This Heavenly appraisal will be the official, enduring statement of what came out of our existence. It will expose publicly and historically our true selves. It reveals whether we lived up to what was meant by being human. It becomes the basis of whether we are ashamed ultimately, or not.
And what is involved in both a temporal confident standing in society and ultimately a favorable verdict from Heaven, in not being put to shame? Eyes fixed on all of God’s commandments. At least that. A lot to say about this, but not today.