Saturday, May 21, 2005

In Search Of Our Identity

The issue of identity is inescapable and central to our lives. "Who am I?" we all ask. "Where did I come from? Where am I going?" Every person wrestles with these questions, and the answers we adopt determine the direction of our lives.

Today, this search for identity falls under the concept of "self-image". Every person has a "self-image" of himself. It could be a healthy, positive image, or it could be a poor, negative one. Regardless, a person's self-image determines his self-worth in this life, whether he/she is a success or failure. Self-image is what affects, for better or worse, a persons attitude and behaviour toward others and life's circumstances. With all that is at stake, it is easy to see why people are in search of a good self-image.

However, there is much debate concerning how to develop a good self-image. Many psychologists, counselors, and even some church leaders believe that to develop a good self-image a person needs to start loving himself more. As we will see, this philosophy is contrary to the teaching of the Word of God.

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:2 that in the last days men will be lovers of themselves. According to this verse, our problem is that we love ourselves too much. So it would appear that we cannot develop a good self-image based on learning to love ourselves more. As a matter of fact, we do not need to develop a good self-image at all. We need to develop a realistic view of ourselves, what is called a "proper self-image". We need to learn who we are from God's perspective.

Romans 12:3 says: "3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."

This passage is very revealing in a couple of different areas. Paul warns us of a couple of different things that can be detrimental to our ability to live the "Newness Of Life" of which the bible so frequently speaks. He warns us against arrogance, pride and vanity. As you'll find, there is nothing about these things God finds appealing... As a matter of fact, God specifically says He "hates" them!

Paul also reveals the motivation for his warning, and I believe from examining everything Paul ever said, I think this motivation was the same motivation that gave him the drive, will power and great desire/love that was necessary for him to complete all the God-given tasks in his life... It was revealed in the very first part of this passage: It was the "Motivation of Grace" that gave Paul his desire, stamina and the ability to be totally content with his life despite the many hardships he encountered. And there were many hardships in Pauls life.

Pride is what caused satan to be cast from heaven. Pride is what caused Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And pride is what motivates us to think too highly of ourselves. How should we think of ourselves to counteract this attitude of pride? We can look at who we really are and have the guts to recognize what we see.

Truth is, we are a being that is "spiritually dead" without Christ in our hearts, and nothing we could ever do would produce nothing more than a stench in God's nostrils... For ALL have fallen short of the Glory of God... That's the plain Truth. There is nothing within us in the flesh only that could ever be considered "good"... No matter how pretty, no matter how smart, no matter how educated, no matter how gifted in any area, no matter WHAT!

When we think of ourselves with "sober judgment" (the ability to see the reality of who we are), we ar thinking in accordance to what? God's Word, of course. You have to look no further than the scripture above to confirm that."Sober judgment", in comparison to the "modern-day philosophy" that says we should love ourselves more, we find a clear contradiction. Scripture is Truth, so, the "modern-day philosophy" loses out as a clever, but false teaching that does nothing more than lead an individual down a path of failure, as someday, the individual will find there nothing to sustain true "happiness" in false assumptions of their identity.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Godlessness in the Last Days

"1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

In this passage, Paul plainly states the various conditions of man in the last days. I think we can all agree that none of these characteristics could be deemed as things we should have in our own lives. Right? So, is the problem that we hate ourselves or that we love ourselves too much? It would seem, by the scripture above, that we tend to love ourselves too much.In light of these verses, will "loving ourselves" more enable us to develop a "proper self-image"? Absolutely not! So how do we develop a "proper" self-image? That's coming next in "How To Develop A Proper Self-Image".

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