Excerpted FromDiscover Your True SelfBy Chip Ingram Let me ask you a couple of very important questions about your identity. First, what is your image of God? A.W. Tozer taught us that “we tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.” He also said that “what comes […]
Discover Your True Self
By Chip Ingram
Let me ask you a couple of very important questions about your identity. First, what is your image of God?
A.W. Tozer taught us that “we tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.” He also said that “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” It is essential for us to get a high, holy, clear, accurate picture of who God really is, because our perception of God has such a powerful effect on our lives. A distorted image of him will take us pretty far off track in life.
Now, if you agree that it’s vital to have an accurate picture of who God really is to understand your identity, then another question is equally important: How do you see yourself? Because I believe that the second most important thing about you is how you see yourself.
If we are going to see God accurately, we need to know something about his perspectives, including his perspective of us—what he thinks about when he looks at us. One of God’s primary desires is for us to know who we really are in his eyes.
We need to learn what he had in mind when he created us, and what he wants and expects from us in our relationship with him. God longs for us to see ourselves the way he sees us.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?
In your mind’s eye, how do you picture yourself? What do you believe about who you really are?
Knowing everything you know about your appearance, your thoughts and feelings, your deepest needs and biggest dreams, your skills and talents and flaws, how would you describe yourself honestly?
Are you loving and caring? Warm and approachable? Gifted, smart, and innovative? Powerful and persuasive? Lonely, inadequate, and insecure? Confused or fearful? Feeling lost or purposeless? Angry and resentful? Too tall, too short, too thin, too fat, too . . . anything? For now, don’t describe the person you want to be. How do you actually see yourself?
This perception is what psychologists call your self-image. It’s the mental image you have of your own identity and self-worth. In other words, it’s a composite of all the mirrors you look into in order to see who you are.
YOUR NEW IDENTITY
Many of our self-perceptions go much too deep to be wiped away with some corrective self-talk. But we can identify the lies we believe and renew our minds with God’s truth.
In doing so, we will significantly change the course of our lives.
No matter how painful your memories and emotions are when you think of your past, you can experience healing and restoration. That’s what redemption is all about. Whether you perceive yourself positively or negatively, getting a vision of your true self through God’s eyes is transforming.
It was for my wife Theresa and me. It changed the entire direction of our lives. It even saved our marriage. When I began to see myself as a wanted, valued, and deeply loved son of my heavenly Father, I no longer demanded Theresa to make my life work and meet all my needs.
Scripture tells us to think about ourselves accurately—not too high, not too low, not too anything. In Romans 12, the apostle Paul commands us to have an accurate perception of ourselves:
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (v. 3)
Notice that this instruction is given in the form of a command.
It is not just friendly encouragement, a pat on the back, or a helpful suggestion. It is not presented as an option. We are told not to think of ourselves inaccurately but in accordance with sober judgment and with the faith God has given us—in other words, the way he sees us.
When we trusted him as our Savior, we died with him, our sins were forgiven, and we were justified in his sight, meaning we were declared legally righteous. All our sins past, present, and future—are now forgiven. The moment we placed our faith in Christ, the righteousness of Jesus himself was given to us, and God sees us now through the lens of his Son. We are reborn in the Son’s image; this is our new legal standing before our heavenly Father, whether we are living up to that image or not.
Through the lens of the sacrifice of Jesus and his cleansing blood, God sees us as clean, righteous, forgiven—as his children. The really big implication of this amazing truth is that God loves us as much as he loves Jesus.
Let me ask you a question: What does it mean to be in Christ?
If we are in Christ—in other words, if we have a real relationship with him, not based on church membership or some standard of moral behavior but on genuine faith in him—we are made new.
We are in him, and he is in us, and God sees us as he sees Jesus. These are not merely theological concepts or religious words. This is the new and eternal reality of everyone who has trusted in Christ and his work on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins and entrance into God’s family.
We tend to emphasize justification and the born-again experience—entering into salvation by grace through faith. And that’s huge, so it ought to be emphasized. But tragically, many Christians spend their lives focusing on what we are saved from without ever realizing what we are saved for.
A real and profound journey begins with salvation, and it involves living as a son or daughter of God who no longer has anything to prove.
When we enter into a relationship with our heavenly Father, we have a new standing. He gives it to us. We don’t have to try to earn it anymore. We don’t have to try to become a son or daughter or demonstrate that we belong in the family. We already have his favor.
Our elder brother, Jesus, is at the right hand of the Father, and he wants us to live out of the love we have been given. Learning how to do that may be a journey, but becoming who we are is not. He has already given us a completely new identity: We are sons and daughters of the Creator. However, getting that reality from our heads to our hearts is no easy task.
So, let me ask you again: How do you really see yourself?
Let’s face it, we all have distorted pictures of our identity that undermine our relationships and rob us of contentment. If you’re like me, I’m guessing you can relate to struggles with rejection.
Why? Because none of us has a perfect self-image or a complete understanding of who we are in Christ. We all wrestle with insecurity at some level, whether we are aware of it or not. We all have that experience of trying to be a “somebody,” even though God has already made us to be incredibly valuable and loved. We still live like orphans in spite of having been adopted by a loving Father.
This journey of discovering your true self begins with identifying what you think about yourself, measuring your perception against what God thinks of you, and learning how you can narrow the gap between your view and his.
God longs for you to see yourself as he sees you: wanted.
Excerpted from Discover Your True Self by Chip Ingram. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2020. Used with permission. BakerPublishingGroup.com