The Difference Between Guilt And Shame

Guilt and shame are terrible.

But there is a slight difference in their meanings.

A while back, I read a book called Tattoos On The Heart by Gregory Boyle. In his work with gangs in downtown Los Angeles, he learned to see guilt and shame in kids and young adults.

After a variety of stories, he shared this summary:

Guilt is feeling bad about what you’ve done.
Shame is feeling bad about who you are.

Just reading this description gives me the feeling of burden. And we could probably have a great conversation about which one you think may be worse to live with. Everyone comes at these through a different filter.

Though we can point to moments in our lives where we can experience guilt and shame, that’s not us. It’s not what defines us.

  • We are strong (Is 40:29)
  • We are courageous (Is 40:30)
  • We are in God’s hand (Is 40:30)
  • We are loved (Is 54:10)
  • We have a future (Je 29:11)
  • We are free (Jn 8:36)
  • We are rescued, healed, delivered, and saved.
  • We can be confident.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Eph. 2:10

Here are a few song lyrics that we’ve sung that deal with guilt and shame:


Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing


Shackled by a heavy burden
‘Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same


Bring your tired and bring your shame
Bring your guilt and bring your pain
Don’t you know that’s not your name
You will always be much more to me


Jesus isn’t finished with us yet.

Greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.

We can still praise God!

As hard as it may be, give God your guilt and shame.

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Other Posts:

Really Wise Words

Quotes From New Room Conference

Thankfulness Begins With Jesus First


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