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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Saving Face, not embarrassing people

Fear can cause us to do silly things. Our insecurity is what causes us to want people to stand in awe of us. We become pretentious; we try to keep other people from knowing who we really are and what we are really like. Sometimes I think the most attractive thing about Jesus as a man was His unpretentiousness. Jesus did not try to create an “aura of mystique”; even common people could relate to Him.

We love to punish people by making them feel guilty. Those of us who are always sending people on guilt trips almost certainly have a big problem ourselves with a sense of guilt. Because we haven’t sorted out our own guilt issues, we want to make sure others wallow in the mire of guilty feelings with us. We point the finger partly because we haven’t forgiven ourselves.

Saving face. It is what God lets us do.

What exactly is “saving face”? Dale Carnegie uses this expression in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People.1 Although this is not specifically a Christian book, it is saturated with Christian principles and would do most Christians no harm to read. Saving face means preserving one’s dignity and self-esteem. It is not only the refusal to let a person feel guilty; it is providing a rationale that enables what they did to look good rather than bad. Or it may mean hiding a person’s error from people so they can’t be embarrassed.


Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1937).

Chapter 3: The Lord’s Prayer and Forgiveness

R. T. Kendall, Total Forgiveness: When Everything in You Wants to Hold a Grudge, Point a Finger, and Remember the Pain - God Wants You to Lay It All aside (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2010).

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