When you look at yourself, are you satisfied with what you see? How does God see you, and is He satisfied?
So when we look into a mirror, just what do you see, do you see a happy, beaming face?
Do you see bloodshot eyes, a skin blemish, a loose thread on your dress? But more importantly, what do you see when you look beyond that mirrored reflection at yourself as a person? Do you see a person that is generally happy, a generous person, a person with lots of drive and enthusiasm?
Do you see a person worldly wise, and full of commonsense, with lots of varied life experiences in our past? Do we see a basically likeable person?
What we see when we look at ourselves, and what we think about what we see when we look at ourselves is called self-concept.
How do you feel about yourself? Are you happy with the image you see? Are you satisfied with who and what you are?
Psychologists tell us that if we have a poor self-concept, a weak self-image and low self-esteem, we are suffering from poor mental health.
The lower the image we have of ourselves, the poorer our mental health, according to the experts.
The question is: does this apply to true Christians? Now let’s try to put ourselves in God’s place; How does God view us (Christians) and how should we as Christians view ourselves?
Let’s look at how some of the great men of the Bible viewed themselves; Job for instance, how he viewed himself.
Job 42:1-6 Then Job answered the Lord and said, I know that you can do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak; I will demand (or question) thee and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye sees thee: Wherefore I abhor (despise) myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Job had come to a much greater understanding of what God stood for, what God represented and what his personal relationship with God should have been.
Before God showed Job what kind of person he really was, Job was pretty pleased with himself, self-satisfied,
When God opened his eyes for what he really was Job said: I despise myself, I hated what I was, Job then abased himself before God.
The psychologists would probably say that Job displayed a low self-concept and would declare that Job’s mental health was very poor.
Now notice what Paul said about himself: Rom. 7:18 For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me: but how to perform that which is good I find not.
What was happening to Paul? The very same thing that is happening to all Christians: A war was raging in Paul’s mind; it was the carnal mind against the Spirit of God.
Paul then goes on to say: For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me (vs. 19-20).
For you and every true Christian, we must first become convicted against the way of life we have been living, against our sinful nature, and then repent.
We have got to know what we are repenting of, we have to see ourselves as God sees us, and like Job come to loathe our carnal nature.
And as we all know, even after our conversion, there are times when our carnal nature takes over; it overrides the Spirit of God and forces us to do things that, with our new Godly nature, we don’t want to do.
Verses 21-22 Paul says: I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.
What has happened to us is what Jeremiah wrote about in Jere. 31:33 God says I will put my laws in their inward parts and write it in their hearts.
Now our minds are coupled with God’s Holy Spirit, and that enables us to look at life from a different perspective. We no longer think as much of ourselves as we once did.
Paul, through the power of the Holy Spirit, was able to see himself as God viewed him before he was converted. As we all know, God doesn’t look on the outward man. He looks on the heart (I Sam. 16:7)
The Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as a man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
To God it makes no difference whether we are outwardly beautiful, strong or intellectual. What pleases God is that we submit ourselves to Him and obey Him. With God’s help, we can perform what is required of us.
How would today’s modern psychologists look at you, begotten members of God’s Family? They would no doubt classify Job, Paul, Jeremiah and you as having poor mental health.
But are we mentally ill because we hate what we are? There is a vast difference, a big conflict that exists between the standards of psychologists and those of the Bible
Psychologists would have us believe that we should, by using human reasoning, to see ourselves as greater than we really are, and in doing so, would lead to greater achievements and accomplishments.
But this type of reasoning is false: Unless we are in tune with God through the power of His Holy Spirit, there is a vast difference between what we are, and what we become.
God inspired Isaiah to write in Isa. 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.
Now in order for our ways and thoughts to change, we must have the power of God’s Holy Spirit to open our minds.
God must give us the conviction; grant us the ability to see and understand what repentance is all about.
Notice Corth. 1:26-29 For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
God didn’t call us based on the world’s standards, and neither should we compare ourselves among ourselves based on the world’s standards. If we do this: we either think we are better than our neighbor or we think we are so inferior that we can’t accomplish anything. And self-pity amounts to a false humility.
What true humility does is to makes us focus on ourselves as the root cause of all our problems. We have no one else to blame but ourselves and our own human nature.
What Paul is telling us is that God doesn’t want anyone to think that he or she was called because of above-average intelligence or is very handsome or beautiful or extra strong or just born better than anyone else.
Notice Jeremiah 9:23-24 Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight.
The only beings that deserve any credit is God the Father and Jesus Christ.
That fact is; our calling is not something we have earned, it is not something we can inherit.
Our calling is a result of God’s love and mercy, an individual and specific miracle, a gift from God John 6:44 and 65 No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
Now, just because we are called the “foolish” and “base things of the world and weak we are not to remain in that state. God tells us in II Peter 3:18 to grow in grace and the knowledge of God’s ways.
When we do this we develop the mind and character of God, our human nature becomes God’s nature and we begin to produce the fruits that please God.
In the 15th chapter of John Christ gives the analogy showing this need for true Christians to bear good fruit. In verses 1-2 John writes: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that I may bring forth more fruit.
Just what is this purging John is talking about? It is the everyday process of trials and hardships with which we are confronted. Verses 3-5, Now you are clean through the word (we are washed with the water of God’s Word and with the blood of Jesus Christ) which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abided in the vine, no more can you, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.
If Jesus Christ is not abiding in us we can’t accomplish anything and especially our calling, which is to born into God’s Family.
This is the attitude that God wants us to take on: For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, said the Lord: but to this man (regardless of our heritage, our background, the walk of life from which we have been called or the depths of depravity to which we might have descended) will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word (Isa. 66:2).
The word contrite means – showing a sincere remorse. That is what it takes. It doesn’t matter who we carnally think we are or who or what we have been in the world.
As we all know, some people are born with more natural talent and ability, but in God’s eyes they are underachievers.
God uses the truly humble, converted people as instruments that simply befuddle the mind of the psychologists and the intellect of this society.
God judges us according to the works we produce after He reveals to us the right way of life.
It has been said that there are four kinds of people in this world and we all fall into one of these categories.
The first kind of people are those who can. Because of where they were born and their station in life, their resources and circumstances guarantee a life of material success.
There are those who can, but don’t. These people have great abilities, but use them for destructive rather than constructive purposes. Most of the time criminals fall into this category. They have a poor self-concept and achieve the wrong things.
The third group is made up of people who can’t and don’t. They never reach the goal they’re shooting for. They are always trying but not succeeding.
The fourth group is made up of people who can’t but do, Christians fall into this category.
You and I were not called because of our great intellect, our noble background, our strength and power we have of ourselves.
In this category, we have people who have risen above the circumstances, however poor, against all odds; these people become the great achievers.
For true Christians it is because God’s Spirit is working through them and Christ living His life over in them.
This is the group that we as members of God’s Church are in.
Paul said God called the weak of the world to confound the wise, and God gives His Spirit to those who are willing to obey (Acts 5:32) and with that Spirit we can achieve our calling.
No matter our physical position in this life, our ultimate worth will depend on how much we exercise the Spirit of God. God judges according to our works.
Just read the parable in Matthew 20 dealing with laborers. In this parable seniority doesn’t matter; it is no guarantee of salvation.
We will be judged according to what we do with what we are given (Luke 12:48).
The parables of the talents shows that God rewards us according to the effort we expend. More will be required from those who have been given much.
What then is the self-concept that we as Christians should have? That self-concept is that we realize our own potential, and we can only realize our potential when we realize who and what we are and what we have been.
Christians have been given, through God’s mercy, the knowledge of God’s way. If we deceive ourselves into believing that we are anything other than what we are - unworthy benefactors of God’s grace - we become like a person described in James 1:23-24
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass or mirror, For he beholds himself and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was.
The bottom line of true humility is recognizing that we have problems because of ourselves, because of the carnal nature still within us.
What we were before conversion can prevent us from attaining salvation and eternal life if we don’t overcome.
Verse 25 But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer; but doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
To perform the works that please God, we need to have God’s Spirit residing in us, along with a childlike attitude, a submissive, teachable attitude. One that yields to God’s way in everything. This does matter to God, and after all, isn’t that what really matters?