Linda Buxa evaluates some of the "positive" words we repeat in our culture and determines if they line up with the Word of God and His truth for us.
As I was watching the Disney Channel with my kids, a great motivational commercial came on about being yourself and finding your talents. That was decent until the moral at the end had one kid encouraging all the other kids to “believe in yourself.” As soon as I heard that, I found myself climbing up on my soapbox.
Now, I’m a rose-colored glasses, glass-is-half-full kind of person, yet I’m a little tired of some of the "positive" words we are fed. We’ve come to accept “follow your heart,” “you deserve it,” and “believe in yourself” as truths.
When I hear that I should follow my heart, I think, “No way.” Deep down I know what a dope I really am. I know that left to my own devices, “out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). In my most honest moments, following my heart means selfish subjectiveness.
Philippians 2:3,4 cures me of that and reminds me to follow God’s heart:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
“You deserve it” bugs me because it makes me realize just how skewed my view of this world is. If I start to believe I deserve a pedicure, I’m telling myself I deserve to pay $30ish to have someone else paint my toenails because I had a rough week. Putting it that way sounds a little foolish, doesn’t it?
I’m not anti-pampering or relaxing, but those are fun, enjoyable, first-world luxuries and privileges. They are not a right owed to you by the universe because life didn’t go entirely smoothly this week. Life doesn’t go smoothly for people in war-torn nations, but they’d simply like clean water or a home to live in.
God tells us that, thanks to Jesus, we don’t get what we deserve—and we get what we don’t deserve.
“He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him” (Psalm 103:9-11).
Telling me to “believe in myself” only embarrasses me. I know my weaknesses, my flaws, my insecurities. Sure, I can clean up and put on a good front, but on my own, I will ultimately let myself—and you—down. I don’t have a self-created unending well of self-control, love, joy, peace, or patience.
But we know the One who does. Because we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
When we give in to the temptation to focus on ourselves, we need to listen to John the Baptist’s words of wisdom and repeat after him, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).