The world likes to define us. It likes to say, "You need to be taller, thinner, have a different hair cut or color, or be smarter, wear that, drive this, live here". Who are we? Way down deep, that is a question we have probably all asked ourselves at one time or another. It's easy to let that question be answered for us, by others, and that's usually not a good thing.
Growing up my father constantly reminded me, "You can do anything you put your mind to". It instilled in me a great sense of confidence that I am truly grateful for. You can be whatever you want to be. You can do whatever you want to do. It's made a HUGE impact on my life!
I remember early in my elementary school carer my mom literally hating parent teacher conferences. You parents with a difficult child, you know what I'm talking about. My mom would dread every single one! That was really my own fault, not hers. I was that difficult child. But my mom loved me, still does. I grew up feeling love and acceptance from my mom. I can only compare it to the love of God for His children. It's been a blessing! Again, instilling in me a great sense of confidence.
I remember one particular parent teacher conference where my mom was handed a failing report card and told by the teacher that I was stubborn. It was even in writing on the back of that report card, and it was true. I was stubborn! I still have that report card. What I'll never forget about that conference was my mom's response. It changed my life. She looked at the report card, then looked that teacher in the eye and said,
I grew up with different definitions of who I was. On the one hand I was a failing, stubborn brat. But love said that stubborn was good when you get it headed in the right direction. So many times the labels we grow up with are what we become. The world can steal our true identity-- what God says we are, and replace it with what it says we are.
I could probably write a longer post about where NOT to find your identity. However, today we will look at where we SHOULD find our identity and what happens when we understand who God says we are. Before we proceed though, just a disclaimer. That teacher was well-meaning, young, right out of college, single and childless. I'm sure she'd never met a tough case like me. Now that she's older, married and has kids of her own, most likely her perspective has changed.
Your identity and how you see yourself, is quite often shaped by your early life experiences, as mine was. Hopefully, you had a great childhood and you have a healthy self-image. But maybe you heard the voices that said things that made you doubt your self worth and who you really are. Maybe your identity was shaped by those voices. If that's you, this post is especially written with you in mind!
I knew what people said I was. I knew what the world said I needed to be. I knew what my parents said I could be. But as I got older, I so desperately needed to know who God said I was.
God created you and me in His image and for unique purposes. He tells us who we are in His Word. These Bible verses help us understand more about our identity in Jesus Christ and how to not lose sight of who we are and who God designed us to be.
"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10
“Your identity is firmly anchored in Jesus’s accomplishment, not yours. His strength, not yours. His performance, not yours. His victory, not yours. You are not what you do; you are what Jesus has done for you.” — Tullian Tchividjian
We are not defined by who the world says we are. We are defined by what God says we are in His Word. He created us uniquely in His image and made us who we are so that we could make known who He is. Isn't that a beautiful thought!
Many people today are looking for their identity in relationships, a career, titles and so many other places. The problem with finding your identity in these places is that these things change. Relationships change. Careers change. Titles become meaningless. What doesn't change, or become meaningless, is God and who He says you are. The steadfast love of our unchanging God gives us the security of the identity we crave.
God knows what you really are. Deep inside the you that nobody else knows or sees God knows, sees and loves. He knows that you are both good and bad, saved yet still sinful, provided for but still needy, beautiful and broken all at the same time. You don’t have to fear the identity the world tries to pin on you. All of this is welcomed at the foot of the cross where Jesus says, "Come".
If we are not looking for our identity in Jesus Christ and what He says we are in His Word, then we are going to look for and find it somewhere else. We're going to let the world put it's stamp on our identity and tell us who it thinks we are. When this happens, we allow failures, weaknesses, fleshly desires, pride, worldly success and despair define us. This leaves us empty and spiritually destitute. The identity the world offers us will never give the eternal hope we crave, instead it leaves us in a state of perpetual hopelessness.
When we find our identity in Jesus Christ and what He says we are in His word, we seek to bring Him glory and not ourselves. I am created in His image, bought at a price, a new creation, His workmanship, a person for His possession, a child of God. When I understand that this is who I am and this is my identity, all that I am and all that I do seeks to bring Glory to His name.
When we find our identity in Jesus Christ the past has no hold on us and we have no fear of the future. He bought us at a price. Our past has no hold and our future is secure. Consider the lineage of Jesus, littered with rapist, adulterers, murderers and prostitutes. Just like these people, He has claimed our identity and covered us with His righteousness.
When we find our identity in Him there's no need to compare ourselves to others. My only comparison is to Him and Him alone. I am created in His image and I am to be like Him. He is my standard for holiness. His Word is my textbook for life. Comparing myself to others, social media friends, church friends, coworkers, only produces dissatisfaction. It leaves me with a warped sense of who He says I am.
We are all created with the purpose of glorifying God. We accomplish this in unique ways because God has created us all different. You may be filled with creativity and you glorify God with that creative spirit. At the same time your friend at church glorifies God with her beautiful voice and excellent piano playing. One man glorifies God as a CEO of a world-wide corporation, while another glorifies Him as a custodian at the church you attend. You have a friend that glorifies God in the way she seeks to raise her family, while yet another glorifies Him as they serve in their singleness. There is no comparison. As members of the family of God we glorify Him in our uniqueness. We seek to bring glory to His name with the gifts and talents He has chosen to give us. Don’t get lost in the sea of comparison and miss out on the blessing of serving Jesus Christ where you are and with the special gifts He has given you.
When our identity is found in Jesus we are not surprised when difficulties come our way. Just as His suffering on the cross had purpose, so does our suffering. Difficulties and trials can bring us closer to Him and make us reflect more of Him. Not only this, but they can also give us a ministry. Countless times I have witnessed friends going through trials only to emerge able to lead others through the same difficulty.
Another byproduct of suffering is that the value of eternal things becomes much greater. Sometimes, the most difficult years of our lives can also be the very best. Suffering, difficulties and trials will all produce spiritual growth if we allow them too. At some point in our Christian walk we are all going to encounter times of suffering. How many of us though will look back on these times with thankfulness? That's not easy, especially with our earthly perspective! However, with an eternal perspective, and the hope of Jesus Christ, we are able to see these times as constructive and be thankful for them. The eternal perspective is a priceless perspective! The more I focus on things of eternal value the less I cling to things that are merely of earthly value.
Your heart belongs to Him. It was made for loving Him and will not be satisfied with any other identity.
Have a favorite verse about who God says you are? Please share it in the comments for others to read and be encouraged.
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