In Sunday school this morning, our teacher taught a really good lesson that I thought I would share with you.
Say you have two people. The first one looks in the mirror and says, "Oh, I'm so good-looking. I'm so athletic and talented, too. It's no wonder that everyone wants to be my friend; it's no wonder that I'm so popular. I'm just all around wonderful."
The second person looks in the mirror and says, "Oh, these braces make me look awful. It's no wonder that no one wants to be my friend. Even if I did have a friend I wouldn't know what to say to them. I never know what to say to people."
These two people have a few things in common, but I'll only mention one. Though their perceptions are different, they are both looking at themselves. There is a problem here, though. They are measuring based off of how they see themselves, and what they believe others think about them. This is dealing with something called self-esteem. Here's a formal definition: Self-esteem: confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect.
The person in our first example has a high self-esteem. The person in our second example has a low self-esteem. Our world today tells us that we need to think highly of ourself, we need to have a high regard for our character and abilities. 'Our self-esteem comes from within,' they say, 'and is not dependent on others around us.' Even some so-called-pastors preach this fake gospel: that all we need to do is think highly of ourself and not let others determine what we think, we just need lots of confidence in ourself and then everything will go good and we will get what we want and be happy. It doesn't work that way, guys, just saying.
So this is what the world is telling us. As Christians, is this the way we should view ourselves? No. We need to look at the truth of the Bible. We need to see ourselves through God's eyes, with His perception.
Genesis 1:26-27 says this: 'Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image ['our' meaning the Trinity--God, three in one], in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female, he created them.'
Truth number one: I have been created by God in His Image. Because of this, you are more valuable than rocks, than animals, than galaxies--humans are of more value than anything else God has created, because He created us alone in His Image, and nothing else. This also says that we do not determine our worth. Neither do the people around us. It is God who has determined our worth by creating us in His Image. This also tells us that our worth is not based on our physical abilities or appearances. Because every human being has been created in the Image of God, that means that our worth is in God, and the fastest runner in the world is just as valuable as the person who cannot run at all. This means that the little baby inside a mothers womb, is of equal value as you and I despite their size and form, because they are made in the Image of God, and no one has a right to destroy them, any more than they do to kill the human being that is walking in front of them.
With this truth revealed, it is easy to think that, because we are His Image bearers, we are on an equal plane with God. Is this your thought process? Read on.
Acts 17:24-25 says: 'The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.'
Truth number two: I am totally dependent on God for everything. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? This is what 1 Corinthians 4:7 says. All we have is given to us by God. Therefore, even though we are made in His Image, we are not God. There is no ground for boasting, here. There is no room for confidence in ourselves, or thinking highly of ourselves, as if we could give ourselves anything. Here is a quote from A.W. Pink: He who cannot do what he will and perform all his pleasure cannot be God.
Lets see what 1 Corinthians 10:31 says: 'So wether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.'
Truth number three: I have been created to glorify God. This is my purpose in life: to point back to Him. Glorify means to assign to God due honor and respect. To demonstrate His greatness and worth and point it back to Him. To make much of Him. To honor Him. We exist for God, not God, for us. He should be the center of our universe.
Romans 3:23 says this: 'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.'
Truth number four: I have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Our purpose in life is to glorify God, yet we fall short of that glory. We are totally imperfect. We, as God's Image bearers, are supposed to reflect Him, yet most often we reflect ourself. We think about ourselves the most. We are supposed to put God at the center of our universe, yet most of the time we put ourself at the center of our universe. We fall short of God's glory.
Romans 6:23: 'For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
Truth number five: I deserve God's condemnation. It's simple. The wages of sin is death, it says that right here. The online definition of sin is this: Sin: An immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. We just saw a moment ago in 1 Corinthians 10:31, that God commands us to glorify Him in everything that we do. Have you been successful in that? I sure haven't, and I'm pretty sure you've 'transgressed against that Divine Law', too. By definition, we deserve God's condemnation--spiritual death.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That's what Romans 5:6-8 says. This is the Good News, guys. We deserve condemnation. But Jesus Christ, our only hope, died for us to take the penalty for sin from us, and rose from the dead to declare that it was complete and justice satisfied. Our value is in Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new-1 Corinthians 5:17. A new self is the reality of anyone who is in Christ. Our value is in the person of Christ.
What were the two people in our beginning examples missing? In three letters: God. More specifically, they were measuring themselves based on their own perception, and the perception of those around them, rather than measuring themselves through God's eyes and through the truths that His word tells us. They are both of equal value because each of them were made in the Image of God, and have been so loved that God left His throne above and came to earth to die for each of them. One of them is not more valued because he/she is is more popular and good-looking and talented, and the other not less valuable because he/she has braces and is socially awkward.
Is this the way you see yourself? Perhaps you are guilty of all or part of what the person in each scenario was thinking about themselves. I am guilty of it. It was a challenge to me, today, to hear these truths, to see myself as having worth because of the fact that God created me in His Image, and yet be shown the side that leaves no room for my ugly pride in the facts that I am dependent on God for everything, my purpose is to glorify Him, yet I fall short of that purpose and deserve God's condemnation. But, that, again, Christ has died for me, releasing me from His just condemnation.
You see, it's all God. Everything points back to Him. I can't go around boasting about myself, because I am of equal value as everyone else--no more valuable--and at the same time, I can't go around getting down on myself and saying I am worthless, because I was created in God's Image, and am just as valuable as everyone else--no less. I can't go around boasting about my goodness and righteousness or talents, because first of all, I have failed my purpose in life, and second of all, because everything I am able to do, is given to me by God Himself. I have failed my purpose in life, but, glory to God! He has redeemed me and given me a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. You see, all glory has to go back to Him. I can take no credit, and I can't live my life in pride. Hopefully this mindset would lead to a life of sincere service to Him.
|It still amazes me every time I can see an individual snowflake like this. I mean, the things are SO tiny, and yet God created each of them so distinct and unique from each other!|
Tomorrow when we wake up, lets start our day by looking to the Creator, not the creation.