If we are to be content in the ever-whirling world of circumstances, we must first accept and care for ourselves. If we are at war in our own heart over who we are and the way we are, we only fan the flames of misery and dissatisfaction.
Am I the only one with a constant litany of self-criticism in my head? Somedays, it seems that every bite I take, every dollar I spend, and every word I speak is analyzed and pronounced “wrong.” My talents and accomplishments are undervalued and underestimated while those of others are esteemed and envied. If I am not comfortable in my own skin, how can I be at home in the world? If I can’t stop thinking of myself, how can I be of any use to anyone else?
Self-depreciation leads me to more self-focus with endless improvement projects. Trying to fix myself is akin to those crazy Galatians that our mentor, Paul, confronted in Galatians 3:3(NLT): “How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” But how can we stop chasing the need for approval and find the sense of certainty and determination that moves us beyond self-consciousness to God-consciousness?
Could it be this change of focus was God’s purpose for sacrificing His one and only Son? Changing our identity from condemned to accepted? From not enough to complete in Christ?
The New Testament repeats this idea many times, trying to help us finally get it.
The writer of Hebrews spent a lot of time explaining that the blood of Jesus cleansed us once and for all. Because of this, we should have no more feelings of guilt (Hebrews 10:2 NLT). “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time (Hebrews 10:10). If you have accepted His offer of salvation and asked forgiveness, you are cleansed from all impurity and made right with God (1 John 1:9). Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if anyone is in Christ, he is made new. None of the old guilt and shame remains. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
John comforts us in our tendency to wallow in our mistakes when he tells us in 1 John 3:20 that, even if we feel guilty, God knows better! As believers, we are redeemed, forgiven, and made right with God, our spirit perfected and vacuum-sealed by the Holy Spirit forever.
He fixed us so that we can forget ourselves and get on with the good work He created for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). When we stop feeling unworthy, we can boldly ask for and accept the things we need to get the job done. Our view of salvation has been narrowly defined as a ticket to heaven, but Jesus wants to change everything about us, including our self-image, so that we can cash in that ticket, get on the train, and ride it all the way to glory—not just hop on at the last stop! It can be quite a ride!
If you are born-again, you know all of this. I do, too. Why haven’t we let it change us? How can we move it out of our head and into our heart? I have been a Christian for a long time, and I am still working on this, so the answer is simple, but not easy. We’ll talk about it more next time. For now, you may want to look up the scriptures I referenced, write them down, and pull them out every time you get into that cycle of self-condemnation. It’s a powerful start.