Monday, June 9, 2008

Believe in Yourself

This is sort of along the same track of thought (two separate trains, one track =P) as the last post. Another one of those really popular sayings that glorifies man and implies that he is something in and of himself. Well, I apologize to those of you who believe in believing in yourself, but I am about to do my best to disprove that saying. You are allowed to stop reading, of course.
Why should we believe in ourselves? That's one of the questions that comes to my mind first when I hear this phrase. I know what I'm made of. And like I said previously, it's not pretty. What is there within us to believe in? Inner strength of some kind? No.
Sometimes, it's a lot easier for some reason to tell myself, "You can do it" than to admit I can't and pray that God would help me. Maybe because whatever I really can't do seems so insignificant, so solving a difficult math problem, making a shot in basketball (which I thoroughly stink at), or getting through a blog entry without wondering what the heck I think I am trying to do here. Maybe the ability really is locked away in my brain somewhere, and it's not unlocking when I need it to.
But that's a small picture. The big picture shows that God gave us all our abilities, and in all honesty, we are nothing without Him. Nothing we can believe in to get us through life. We will fail. Really, we already have failed. Even if we are successful and have good jobs and fancy cars and a big house, we fail. That's the bottom line, plain and simple. Because nothing we can do on our own will save us from ourselves, which will be the reason so many people wind up in hell. We cannot believe in ourselves to get us into heaven because we are fallen. There is NOTHING GOOD IN US. Even though we might find it in ourselves to do good things sometimes.
This is getting slightly depressing, even though it's the cold hard truth. So here's some comfort: God can save us from ourselves and cleanse us of our sins and shortcomings and lead us onto the path to heaven. All we have to do - all we CAN do - is ask and be humble enough to allow Him to change us. And why shouldn't we be humble? We have nothing to boast in, nothing to speak of. Ephesians 2:8-10 - "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Be Yourself

Be yourself. That's such a common message these days. Generally the idea is that you don't want to conform to the mindset of the crowd, the majority, the popular people; to have your own identity and be okay with, or even proud about, it. And I'm not saying that is entirely a bad thing, except for the pride part. But...if you take it for face value, just read the phrase with absolutely no context, it comes across a little differently. "Be yourself." Well, personally, my self is an ugly thing. I have no pride in it. If I was to always be myself, I would be a short-tempered, merciless, sharp-tongued beast with no friends and no hope. That makes the saying sound awfully grim.
I'm NOT saying we SHOULD conform to the world. Um, no. There's kind of two different topics in that one phrase. I'm addressing the fact that in and of ourselves, we are hopeless. We have our talents and abilities that makes everyone unique. And we should hold onto those, and use them, but take no pride in them because they don't redeem our wretched selves. What I AM saying is that we need to not be ourselves, not be okay with what we are, because we are utterly sinful. We shouldn't strive to better ourselves for our own benefit either. Rather, we should be like lumps of soft clay that are pliable and formable so our Maker can use us and make us into what we should be - people whose purpose is to bring Him glory. I love Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
I hope all my ramblings are a little bit understandable and that they edify you in some way. =D