Who Defines You?


It is only when you define yourself by the truths of the Word rather than by the thinking and experiences of the world that you can discover your deepest identity.

We are constantly in danger of letting the world define us instead of God, because it is so easy to do. It is only natural to shape our self-image by the attitudes and opinions of our parents, our peer groups, and our society. None of us are immune to the distorting effects of performance-based acceptance, and we can falsely conclude that we are worth less or that we must try to earn God's acceptance. It is only when we define ourselves by the truths of the Word rather than the thinking and experiences of the world that we can discover our deepest identity.

All of us have encountered a good deal of “psycho-babble” about self-love, including the call to look within ourselves to discover the answers to our problems. But the Scriptures exhort us to look to Christ, and not to self, for the solutions we so greatly need. I have come to define the biblical view of self-love in this way: loving ourselves correctly means seeing ourselves as God sees us. This will never happen automatically, because the Scriptural vision of human depravity and dignity is counter-cultural.

To genuinely believe and embrace the reality of who we have become as a result of our faith in Christ requires consistent discipline and exposure to the Word of God. It also requires a context of fellowship and encouragement in a community of like-minded believers. Without these, the visible will overcome the invisible, and our understanding of this truth will gradually slip through our fingers.

Seeing Ourselves as God Sees Us

What does it mean to see ourselves as God sees us? Contrary to our culture, the biblical doctrine of grace humbles us without degrading us, and elevates us without inflating us. It tells us that apart from Christ, we have nothing and can do nothing of eternal value. We are spiritually impotent and inadequate without Him, and we must not put our confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). On the other hand, grace also tells us that we have become new creatures in Christ, having been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His light, life, and love. In Him, we now enjoy complete forgiveness from sins and limitless privileges as unconditionally accepted members of God's family. Our past has been changed because of our new heredity in Christ, and our future is secure because of our new destiny as members of His body.

Thus, a biblical understanding of grace addresses both human depravity and human dignity. It avoids the extreme of “worm” theology (I'm worthless, I'm no good, I'll never amount to anything, I'm nothing but a rotten sinner) and the opposite extreme of pride and autonomy (“What do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”—1 Corinthians 4:7). Grace teaches us that the most important thing about us is not what we do but who and whose we are in Christ. In Scripture, doing (our actions) should flow out of being (our identity); the better we grasp our identity in Christ, the more our actions should reflect Christ-like character.

Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth.

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