Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Self-Opinion and True Potential

What influences have the greatest impact on your opinion of yourself? Who do you believe you are and what do you think you are worth in the world? What is your view of a successful life? By comparing God's views with our own, we may find harmful errors in what we think of ourselves.

Deep down, most people have an unspoken (or not-so-unspoken) opinion of themselves. They evaluate their worth and potential by other people's qualities. They have a mental scale of who they are. For example:

Appearance: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10            Athletic: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Intelligence: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10            Talent: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Popularity: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10              Job Status: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Wealth: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10                   Family Acceptance: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Reputation: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10            Religious Devotion: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     RESULT: 73/100

Wow, seventy-three! You are an above average person. Wrong. I realize that my example of a “mental scale” may have been a bit exaggerating, but you get the point, right? People gather all their information based on others they see, read about, or live with. (Isn't amazing how incapable we feel attending the World Olympics or a national music competition?) Even if we do not want to compare our lives with others, it comes so naturally. It is dangerous. Comparing with others with leads down two paths: the looking-good pride or the self pity and ignorance pride that refuses to see glory and purpose in each individual. We cannot lay our score of seven-three before God and expect that He will judge our worth by it. I encourage you to write down on a 1 – 10 scale the opinion you have of yourself. Then, one by one, erase them. Permanently. No Christian that has that list can walk down the street without judging others by it. Human character math goes something like this:

Desirable Appearance + Impressive Performance = Successful

Intelligence – (Wealth + Popularity) = Unsuccessful

INCORRECT. Appearance, performance, and all the other human qualities are changing traits. The only character that adds up is God's character within us, because its factors are unchangeable and true. In the beginning God created the humans in His image. Saved or unsaved, we are all born with the worth and potential to have good success in God's eyes. If we would simply accept God's gift of eternal life and live trusting His Word and purpose, we will have completed our mission on earth. Joshua 1:8-9 says,

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

Living the law cannot save anyone, but living by the truth of God's law we are guaranteed good success –in God's eyes. You see, God's view of potential and success are completely different than the world's. When I was younger, I believed that if I achieved the level that was pleasing to me, I would have reached success. Success cannot be measured by any level we set. Truly, success is about recognizing God's level and as an result living a life that humbly loves and magnifies Him.
Despite the fact that we are not to compare with others, it is true that people have different appearances and abilities. How should we address this? We should be in awe of God's variety, enjoy it, and use our own gifts to fulfill His glory! How do people's comments effect you? Whether criticism or compliment, their words should encourage you to embrace God's design of you. Do your comments to others have the motive of thanking God for the gifts He placed in their lives? If we do not believe that unsaved individuals have the potential to be a godly Christian, then why would God have us living on earth today? May He give us a greater faith and vision in the power of His Salvation. We are not only to think humbly of ourselves, but also truthfully according the measure of gifts God has given us.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith, (Romans 12:3).”

Imagine we are in our nineties, sitting in adjustable recliners and trying paying medical bills. Life on earth is almost over. What will having had good looks, high school popularity, and a healthy college career be worth then? Nothing. What will mean something is seeing grandchildren (or others you have ministered to) loving and serving God –knowing true success. Exchange your idea of success for God's view of success. Make the Bible the blueprint of your identity. Do not be harmed and unusable by believing lies about yourself. You were created in the image of God!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Will You be my Valentine?

Yes, it's that time of year. Except for the little gifts that my parents leave on my dresser to find in the morning, Valentine's Day almost makes me cringe.... What do paper hearts, candies, and undressed angels armed with bows and arrows have to do with February 14th anyway? Who was Saint Valentine? By looking back in history, we can find a different kind of love displayed by a man named Valentine.

Valentine was one of the hundreds of Christians martyred in Rome for his faith. Demonstrating the utmost love for Christ, Valentine was killed for claiming Jesus as his Savior on the 14th day of February, A. D. 269. It so happened that Romans celebrated their festival of love on February 15th. Juno, the goddess of women and marriage, as well as Pan the god of nature, was honored. In Roman mythology, Cupid was supposed to be the son of Venus, the goddess of sensual love. Believe it or not, but our word romance comes from Rome. In 495, many years after Valentine's death, Roman Catholic Pope Gelasius announced February 14th as Saint Valentine's Day in exchange of the pagan festivals on the 15th. It was an act to Christianize a sinful tradition of Rome.

Today in America, Valentine's Day is commercialized –like every holiday. Truthfully, love is not something that can be sold. Remembering your sweetheart or loved ones is wise, and buying flowers and candy to show them that is precious. But how much further could we go as to love them with the greatest love and live each day putting their lives' first? Christ's words still echo through the ages in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Love is a daily sacrifice. Love has faith that sees beyond death to the eternal joy in living for others. When people sheepishly ask, “Will you be mine Valentine?”, do they know what they are requesting? They are asking for the love that is willing to die for Christ's Name sake.