Saturday, February 17, 2018

Who Do You Think You Are?

I was working in an elementary room in our church one Sunday when I noticed a second-grade boy standing up in the back row of kids. All of the other children were sitting quietly, listening to the teacher in the front of the room.

I walked up to him and said, "Hey, buddy, I need you to have a seat with everyone else."

He eyed the crowd, stone-faced with his arms crossed.

"Can't," he said. "I'm working security."

Oh, of course, I thought. I must have missed his badge. I felt much safer knowing I had a CIA-trained 7-year-old patrolling the mean streets of children's church.

I can't blame him, though. Sometimes we're all a bit delusional when it comes to our identity. For some of us, we act like we're a much bigger deal than we really are. For others, we're constantly down on ourselves. Either extreme results in an unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves that we were never meant to have.

When we're full of ourselves, we tend to feel entitled and judge others. Think of the middle-aged guy who ditches his wife for a girl half her age or the religious person who delights in pointing out other people's faults. Both operate out of pride.

On the other hand, the self-deprecating person becomes a doormat for the world and often seeks out unhealthy or abusive relationships because they think it's all they deserve. They also drudge up past failures and continually rehash all the ways they've blown it. Again, this comes from pride.

As you can see, our self-perception is sometimes about as accurate as a fun-house mirror. That's why we need an objective, outside voice to tell us who we really are. God is the only one objective enough for the job.

So, what does that look like in real life?

Just look at what the Bible says about  Paul. Paul was a religious big shot with all the right breeding and education that landed him in the ranks of the socially elite. Even Paul's bragging rights had bragging rights.

But he'd also done some bad stuff, too—getting people arrested, beaten and even killed for their faith. Like I said, this guy had plenty of room to brag, but, once he met Jesus, he also had plenty of room to wallow.

Instead, he chose neutrality. He basically said, "Look, I don't care who judges me. I don't even judge myself. I leave the judging up to God" (1 Corinthians 4:3-4, my paraphrase). This didn't mean he thought he was innocent. It just meant he didn't think much about himself at all. He let God have the final word on who he was.

And so can we. The great news is that, no matter where we've been or what we've done, God offers us a new identity: humble kids of the King with no fear of judgment.

So, this week, whether you're feeling as overconfident as my 7-year-old security guard or totally down in the dumps, remember that you're a poor judge of your own character. Just forget about yourself and let God have the last word on who you really are.

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