How do you see yourself? Pause for a moment and think about it. What thoughts have you had about yourself today?
So many of us find ourselves basing our self-worth on how others see us and on our accomplishments, feeling shame from our past, defining our value based on our looks, or setting unrealistic standards for ourselves.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. If only we could see ourselves as God sees us!
I want to look with you at three thought patterns that can act as roadblocks to thinking — and living — the way God desires for us. These destructive thought patterns were identified by psychologist Albert Ellis (1973). We will contrast these ideas with what 1 Peter 1 tells us about how we can “prepare our minds for action.” Adjusting our thinking to Scripture is the foundation of “be[ing] holy in all we do.” 1 Peter 1:15b
1. “I must be loved or approved by virtually every other person in my life.”
If we are living to make sure that others love us, we give them permission to evaluate us based what we do — we give people the power to determine our self-worth.
2. “My past history is an all-important determiner of my present behavior; because something once strongly affected my life, it should definitely continue to do so.”
You may feel controlled by a secret. You may have had something happen to you that you haven’t told anyone, or only to a few people. Perhaps you feel shame about certain aspects of the family you grew up in, or maybe you have sinful habits you feel embarrassed about, such as gossip, lust, pornography, or criticizing others. Maybe you have done some things in your past you are ashamed of. Or maybe something has been done to you that you feel ashamed of.
3. “I should be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving in all possible respects in order to consider myself worthwhile.”
Ten percent of people will struggle with some form of clinical depression in their lifetime. Depression can be biological or situational, and often can be the result of both. However, one of the leading causes of depression is setting your standards so high that you cannot live up to them.
Several places in Scripture refer to believers being “in Christ” (1 Peter 5:14; Philippians 1:1; Romans 8:1). Colossians 3:3 gives a little more insight: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” When we come to Christ as broken sinners, He exchanges our sin nature for His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). We cannot remain as we were and enter into the presence of a holy God. We must “die” to self and be “hidden” in the righteousness of Christ. Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Here the purity of Christ is presented as a garment we wear when we repent and accept God’s offer of salvation.
We cannot come to God on our own merit. We must be escorted by His Son. No amount of self-cleansing can make us pure enough to warrant the attention of Perfection. The Bible says that in our natural, sinful state we are enemies of God (Romans 5:10). But, escorted by the Son, we are welcomed into His presence. Through repentance and acceptance of Jesus’ death on our behalf, we are even called His children (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26). God no longer sees our imperfections; He sees the righteousness of His own Son instead (Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 8:12). Because we are in Christ, God sees Christ’s righteousness covering us. Only “in Christ” is our sin debt cancelled, our relationship with God restored, and our eternity secured (John 3:16-18; 20:31).