Would you agree that how we view ourselves, our self-identity...Affects every aspect of how we think, act and relate to the world around us? Including with God?! Ok then... Grasp this one powerful FACT... Before we continue!
Our self-view... Our identity...Is ALMOST ALWAYS completely based upon a RELATIONAL PERSPECTIVE...In other words… Believed in relation to outside factors! There are TWO very prominent Cultural Patterns for how most establish their "Self-Identity" and worth today:
In many places of the world today, and in many cultures from times past...Self-Identity is directly connected to where you came from...Or who your parents were, what your family name is... What your GIVEN place in this world would be, based upon your past... Your given social status…
Your worth is established in how you fulfilled that given obligation to your name and place... In the eyes of the culture around you...You are given an expected identity... And you lived to be worthy of that identity!
In our western world, we have a very different culture of self-identity...We are told that who you are has nothing to do with where you came from... And you have no obligation to be anything but what you choose to become... WE ARE ENCOURAGED TO…Be your own person... Find who YOU are…Make your own way...Find your own success and happiness...Therefore, our self-image is not so much tied to whether we fulfill our given position or obligations in society...
But in how we look and perform as an individual...How successful we look to those who are most important to us…And to our culture around us!
When Gideon was called by God to become a Military Leader… A Judge to deliver Israel in a time of need... Gideon expressed BOTH of these CULTURAL PATTERNS of self-identity in his self-doubt as to who he was in the world...
Judges 6:15 (ESV)
15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
So... Most of us here today...Base our self-identity on the "Western Style" of thought... RELATIONALLY! This means I DO NOT think of my self-worth based only upon...How skilled, talented, attractive, successful, rich, smart, educated, or good I may be...But on all of these characteristics...AS COMPARED TO THOSE AROUND ME! AND AS COMPARED TO THE EXPECTATIONS OR APPROVAL OF THOSE AROUND ME!
I may build my self-view, my confidence, my place in society... In my own mind...
Based upon my position as the most talented person, or the smartest person, or most attractive, or most moral, or most successful person in my social group...
And suddenly, my entire self-identity...My confidence in who I am...Completely shifts... Changes...Because someone comes along who is clearly better in my area of acknowledgement... My area of recognition!
I may have built my entire self-view, my identity...Based upon a terrible failure in my past...A very bad choice... A mistake I have made...Which sets the attitude of acceptance and expectation for me now... From others... And therefore, from myself...Or I may have grown up with the perception of who I am, forced upon me...Through abuse, neglect, criticism, or manipulation by others around me...Most in this room right now...Base your self-worth on...Your achievements, Your abilities, Your failures, Or the worth you were given through abuse and criticism you've suffered!
ALL ESTABLISHED BY THE PERCEIVED VIEW OF THOSE AROUND US!My Spouse, my parents, kids, my teachers, my friends, my coworkers... Or society as a whole!"THIS IS HOW THE WORLD SEES ME... SO THIS IS MY PLACE IN LIFE!"
LISTEN CAREFULLY TO THIS NEXT STATEMENT:How you feel about others...
How you treat them...How you love, dislike, trust, forgive and relate to them...
Are intensely connected to how you view yourself!!!
Galatians 5:14 (ESV)
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
If you are constantly looking for reasons to be critical and controlling of others... Easily angered or jealous and threatened by others...Maybe you feel inadequate yourself, and constantly strive to be better...Or maybe you need to keep that feeling of superiority in other's eyes...By constantly decreasing the worth of other's actions! Either way, the motivation behind your actions is based on self-identity! If you are very unforgiving and bitter...Holding grudges and staying angry...You may feel labeled by past mistakes...Which have left you feeling unworthy and unforgivable yourself... So you show the same in return…Or you may feel so privileged and superior...They do not deserve to be forgiven for hurting someone like YOU!
Again... Both views are based upon your self-identity! If you are clingy, desperate and totally in need of another's affection or approval... All of the time...It could be that you have somehow been made to doubt your own worth so intensely...That you need constant assurance from someone...Anyone...To feel any purpose or self-worth in this world at all! Or you may have placed so much emphasis on one single person in the forming your own worth... That any apparent loss of value in their eyes... Instantly and directly affects your identity!
You may identify your worth so closely with your vocation, talent or skill...That any and all other factors are immediately secondary...As long as you are the best at what you are doing...Because to lose that position in others eyes, would destroy your self-identity!
Do you see how completely our self-identity is linked to...Our contentment, our actions, and our feelings towards others?! And all of this baggage spills over into our relationship with God most of all! When we have chosen HIM as our Savior, and Reason for existence...But we use the world's system of self-worth to determine if we are accepted even HIS EYES! Often, either feeling so undeserving and dirty…That we can never draw close to Him intimately... Because He sees us like everyone else does! Or feeling so successful and accepted by the world...That we don't need His help or love in our lives...He should be honored that I have accepted Him into my life...Both attitudes cause shallow and religious attitudes towards God...Rather than the Joy and Peace that comes with loving the Real God!
The only way to have a truly solid, accurate, peaceful self-esteem…Is through our proper view of Jesus Christ... And HIS proper view of US!
THIS is why it is so important for the lost world to know HIM! Not just for Salvation and Heaven THEN...But for Joy and Peace through Jesus NOW!
We have to stop letting Satan... And this world...Shape our self-identities...And steal all that Jesus wants to share with us!
Every person who feels dirty, inferior, judged or broken in this world...Every person who feels they’ve lost too much ground...Wasted too much time in their wrongs...Messed up too badly...Every person who thinks God is distant and displeased...
One- You were literally CREATED to love and be loved by God... Period! That is why you are breathing right this moment!
Two- Nothing you can do at this moment will ever make Him love you more...Or less... Than He does right now! He knows your mistakes and failures...He knows the mistakes yet to come...Yet, He is here anticipating and wanting your love...WHY?!
Because He knows the real you...He knows your failures have nothing to do with who you really are! He knows you have been misled, and deceived by a messed up world...And He WANTS to embrace you and take you away from the hurt... NOT judge you for it! YOUR ONLY TRUE, UNFORGIVABLE SIN WOULD BE IN NOT LETTING HIM DO THAT!!!
John 3:17-18 (ESV)
17 For God did NOT send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned...
Stop giving more power to your sins...Than you give to HIS Ability to take them away... TOTALLY! Stop believing what the world thinks of you... Instead of HIM! You don't get things right so you can come to Him...You go to Him in complete confidence that HE WANTS YOU RIGHT NOW...JUST AS YOU ARE!!
Then in love and trust...Give yourself completely to Him...Strive to be who He created you to be... WITH His help...Knowing that... Through every mistake along the way...You are STILL PERFECT in His Eyes...Because of what HE DID to make you that way!And He'll never give up on you!! IT’S FULL-PROOF!
2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV)
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful--
The moment you accept His Sacrifice on your behalf... The moment you just accept His Love for you...The moment you understand what it Cost Him…And how much He's actually done to have you...There is no more sin, condemnation, ugliness, or dirt on you...NOT A PERSON IN THIS ROOM... IN THIS WORLD... LOOKS BETTER! BECAUSE OF WHAT HE DID FOR YOU!! DON'T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM HIM! DON'T DOWNPLAY HIS INCREDIBLE ACT OF LOVE FOR YOU! BUT GLORY IN IT INSTEAD... LOVE HIM ALL THE MORE FOR IT INSTEAD! TRUST AND REST IN HIS LOVE INSTEAD...
Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)
18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Psalm 103:11-13 (ESV)
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
He doesn't just see you as a disciple who must follow His rules...Or a sinner washed clean...But as a Treasured Bride... Made beautiful again... That HE longs to adore!
Listen to the Metaphors God uses to express the love between the YOU and Jesus Christ!
Song of Songs 4:7-10 (ESV)
7 You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you... 9 You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes… 10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
Song of Songs 2:16 (ESV)
16 My beloved is mine, and I am his...
THIS is the Power of His Love... The way He sees us... The relationship He desires! AND YOU HAVE TO STOP AGONIZING OVER. MISTAKES MADE...TIME LOST... AND LIFE WASTED!! NOTHING IS WASTED WITH GOD!!! God Promises to use our failures so powerfully…That your life will be made better than it could have been, for trusting Him through the fall!!
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Know that our broken past... Our time that we think was wasted...Can be what causes you to trust and lean on Him more than you ever could have otherwise...Can be what causes you to give Him more control...And work in His strength more beautifully than someone who never fell into trials...Can give you a pathway into hurting and broken souls that others could never find...Can give you a hatred for the effects of sin that some never taste...Stop crying over lost time and bad reputations with men...AND START TRUSTING GOD TO MAKE YOU INTO A WARRIOR...USING ALL YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED!
Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
And don't just expect God to magically take away all of your desire and struggle with the sin you have held so dearly in the past...He wants to see us desire HIM... Love HIM... Enough to CHOOSE to turn from that sin (with His help)... Fight it! To recognize that His way is a better love, and trust Him...To sacrifice in our desire to please the One who loves us so much!
1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Take Back Your Identity! Why do we fight and struggle to conform to an image the world has made for us? One that changes daily? You will never please everyone...Because they have shallow, shifting, selfish, immature opinions for judging your worth! Only ONE made you... And knows what you were called to be! Knows your real worth! Only ONE gave everything for you... Just as you are...Only ONE could care less about anything in your past...And just celebrates that you are His NOW!
Just let go of everything that makes you feel unworthy, hopeless and defeated... And base your self-identity on being HIS! It removes all fear of failure or unacceptance ever again! It gives you true desire to worship and live for Him out of confidence and thanksgiving... For His unstoppable love...It allows you to live with no jealousy or pressure to be as good or better than someone else... But to just be YOU! It drives you to be more kind, concerned, loving and forgiving to others...Because your self-esteem is not hinged on their actions...And you can let them off the hook, when you know you have been freed from the same mistakes!
And when it sounds too good to be true...Remember…What it cost Him…To give you this sweet, righteous position in His Eyes...
Galatians 3:13 (ESV)
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (He literally took your shame and pain in His love for you!)
Don't let such a costly, precious Gift be wasted...Accept it... Live in the sweetness of it...And you will honor Him much more than wallowing in the guilt… Which He died to save you from!!! He didn’t Just Die because you were a sinner...HE DIED BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU…AND YOU WERE TAKEN FROM HIM IN SIN! He didn’t just die to get you into Heaven, HE DIED TO BE WITH YOU… NOW… AND FOREVER!
Let these Words... This calling from Christ... Be your thoughts as we close...
Song of Songs 2:10-12 (ESV)
10 My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, 11 for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. 12 The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come...
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