I have never been cool with others defining my identity. From childhood, I’ve always sought to be the one who would define me — for better or worse
Growing up, I had a wonderful Mother who believed in me and made many sacrifices for me to do the things I wanted. I had an Uncle Bob who didn’t always understand my logic but always had my back. I had siblings who thought the world of me. I also had some teachers who believed I’d help to reshape the world.
But I had detractors — some of them close family — who said I’d never amount to anything. I had people around me who literally cursed me and hoped for my failure. What I learned from this is that my desire to define myself was part of my coping mechanism — it kept me from sinking into defeat and despair.
Then I found Jesus — actually, He found me because I was the one who was lost! Unfortunately, my encounter with Jesus was through the mechanism of religion. Religion told me that Jesus loved me — but that I was a dirty, rotten, lowdown, wretch of a sinner and that I would never be more than that in this lifetime.
But, Oh, How He Loves Me!
I got suckered. For the first time, I allowed someone else to define my identity. Did my coping skills fail me? Well, at least I’m letting my creator define me, right? After all, this is God, right? If He says it, He must be right; who am I to argue?
Except that’s never what He said! God definitely wants us to humble ourselves but true humility is not what religion has taught us!
James 4:6-7 (ESV) 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
So I got on the treadmill of religion. I was running my race and going nowhere fast. I became self-deprecating, self-abasing, and self-loathing. I was convinced my flesh was evil and I began to despise it. I became a devoted rapture-watcher and prophecy-hound — longing for the day that I would be separated from this wretched flesh. When I saw the core text for the first time, I believed I had to crucify myself daily to be worthy of this Grace. That in order to be submitted to God, I had to assume a servant’s posture — I had to humble myself or I’d be humbled by God.
Then I learned that Grace was UNMERITED favor! I couldn’t afford to buy it. I couldn’t work for it. And, in my own strength, I didn’t deserve it! Understanding UNMERITED changed everything! I learned that it was not my works or my behavior that warranted this Grace — it was the Gift OF God. It was God giving Himself to us in the person of Jesus.
Then I learned that because God gave us Jesus as a dwelling place (John 15:4-7), that His Spirit abides in us (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:11), that in Him there is no sin (1 John 3:5). That in Him, I’m righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21) and holy (Hebrews 10:10-14). That I am now — in this world and in this time — exactly like Jesus is (1 John 4:17).
Then it hit me — true humility is agreeing with what God says about me! At this point the chains fell off! I was completely free from what people said about me. I was completely free from what religion said about me. And I was completely free from what I thought about myself.
Now, here’s the thing — the world doesn’t like freedom. The devil doesn’t like freedom. And your flesh has been taught not to like freedom. But you were created to be free! You were created in the image of God to LOOK like Him and the likeness of God to ACT like Him. Now ask yourself, “How many restrictions or restraints does God have?”
David was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Abraham was called a friend of God (2 Chronicles 20:7). Moses called himself humble (Numbers 12:3). Jesus called Himself equal to God (John 10:30). Some people would call this arrogance — but it is true humility!
You see, we need to change how we SEE ourselves and what we SAY about ourselves! When we have confidence in God we will have confidence in ourselves. Instead of allowing ourselves to be defined by our environments and circumstances, we will allow ourselves to be defined by our Creator. This is key because the purpose of a thing is only found in the mind of its creator!
More to the point, confidence never equates with putting yourself down!
All this being said, let me tell you what the pinnacle of arrogance is — when you tell God you’re not what He says you are. When you say you’re beneath and not above, when you say you’re the tail and not the head, when you say you’re cursed and not blessed, when you call yourself conformed to the world and not transformed by the renewing of your mind, when you call yourself condemned, when you call yourself unclean, when you call yourself unforgiven, when you call yourself unloved —
You stand before your loving Father who decreed the exact opposite over you shaking a pointed, disagreeing finger at Him.
© 2018 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)