Two Attitudes Towards Sin

And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.”—Genesis 9:22 (NKJV)

If you were raised in a Christian home, as I was, you probably can’t remember a time when you weren’t familiar with Noah’s story. Visual memories of Noah and his incredible ark, and the army of animals streaming into it two by two abound! The flood, the raven, the dove, the olive branch, the rainbow . . . they also play inseparable roles in my earliest recollections.

But there’s an incident in Noah’s life that got passed over . . . and that’s where he gets drunk, passes out, and is discovered naked by his son Ham! I can understand why they never touched on this in Sunday school, but what are we to make of this?

There’s actually a valuable lesson embedded in this odd account. We see it in the way Ham responds to his father’s sinful state. Notice how the Scriptures tell us Ham went and told his brothers about his discovery. Now watch their reaction compared to Ham’s: “But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness” (Genesis 9:23–24 KNJV).

Do you see the difference? Ham saw sin and his first instinct was to share it. Shem and Japheth’s response wasn’t to share, but to cover their father’s sin. Two attitudes towards sin are seen here; we can share it or we can cover it.

Now, don’t misunderstand. There is a proper time and place to confront and confess sin. But that’s not what we see here. Ham made a spectacle of Noah’s sin, seeking to spread word about his father’s shame. But to their credit, Shem and Japheth didn’t take the bait. They did what love does in such a situation, they were moved to cover their father’s shame. 

What we do when we come across the shameful sin of someone else speaks volumes about ourselves. Do we do as Ham did, seeking to expose the flaws in others? Or do we do as Shem and Japheth did, taking compassionate measures to cover these flaws? 

Our answer reveals where we’re at in terms of our connection with God. Those who are close to Him will want to be like Him, looking to extend mercy and a love that covers shame. Those who aren’t will want to share and spread the shame. 

DIG: What did Ham’s reaction to Noah’s sin reveal about him?

DISCOVER: What did Shem and Japheth’s reaction reveal about them? Which reaction most defines you?   

DO: This week, look to extend mercy over someone’s sin.

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.