If ever there was a snare into which men and women like you and me will blunder over and over again, it is the tendency to listen to the distortions and blatant untruths that rob us of fellowship with God and the fruitfulness that our divinely appointed purpose entails.
Not only is it a matter of historical record that we too often give ear to the world (1 Samuel 8:5 & 20), our own selfish impulses and desires (2 Samuel 11:2-4), or the devil himself (Genesis 3:1-6), it is a cultural phenomenon still today. We do not perceive ourselves in the light of God’s truth, but as twisted images reflected back to us by the shattered world around us.
In fact, living life on planet hearth is a lot like growing up in a “fun house” filled with hallways lined with warped mirrors that tell us on the one hand that we are ugly, funny-looking, too short, too round, too skinny, or otherwise misshapen – either physically or, for many, socially or psychologically.
On the other hand, they may have convinced us that we are incomparable in beauty and/or strength and worthy of exceptional honor, making us insufferable braggarts. And if you have not met someone like this, it’s possible that you are the one to whom I’m referring.
In either case, we are programmed by deceit to think of ourselves in ways that vary significantly from the truth. Because we act according to our mistaken beliefs, we repeatedly disqualify ourselves from the benefits of grace, suffering further brokenness in our lives as a result.
The fact is, while some have bought into the lie that they are so unlovable that even God only looks upon them in disgust, the grace and love of God are so incalculably great that there is no one so riddled by the disease of sin and selfishness that God does not have the ability to deliver him or fails to deliver him once his heart yields to His love.
Nor is any man or woman so “good” in of himself that he has access to God on his own merit – whether we estimate “merit” based on physical factors such as our faulty definitions of beauty, strength, and skill; or intellectual abilities in physics, mathematics, literature, or the arts. Even our greatest moral and ethical achievements are like “polluted garments” or “dirty rags” in comparison to the holiness of God whether we list them singly per individual or add them up as a whole in our society.
“…All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment…” (Isaiah 64:6 ESV).
And to those of us who say that we need to make our primary goal in life the achieving of a healthy self-esteem, I say that we do not need to fall prey to yet another vain pursuit that seeks to uplift “self.” Instead, we must learn to simply accept and submit to the grace that God has lavished upon us through His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, Christians should be very wary of the golden calf of “self-esteem” and recall that we are called to “deny self” and follow Jesus daily!
“And (Jesus) said to all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 ESV).
The secret to both our greatest happiness and abundant fruitfulness is not remaining in our “hall of mirrors” looking for the perfect one that will tell us how great we are, but in leaving the “fun house” of mixed messages altogether and following Jesus in the light of His Word.
Here is the plain truth: you and I are loved by our Creator. His love is not based on what we have done or can do. Nor is it based on physical, emotional, or spiritual qualities that we may (or may not) possess. We are loved by the Father through Jesus, His Son, just because God’s very nature is love. Accept it. Embrace it. Celebrate it. And worship Him! He is love and He is holy. And through faith in Jesus Christ alone, you are made His forever!
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 21 years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected].)