What matters is not what others think of us, or even what we think of ourselves, but what God thinks of us. It is easy to get caught up in the treadmill of trying to please others. We act, look, and dress in such a way as to please other people. And we always fail, because it is just not possible to please everyone. Also, let’s face it; most of us do not fit the image our society has of the perfect individual. In fact, I suspect that the image is rigged so almost no one can live up to it. But we can spend our whole life trying to get that carrot on a stick. What, then, do we do when we recognize this and become disillusioned?
So we reach that point where we reconsider whether we ought to live our lives to please others and decide we are going to just be ourselves. But then we must face the question of who we are if we eliminate what other people think of us. And we decide to find ourselves, but we are not quite clear where to look. The idea that a person can define themselves is like thinking we can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps when we are not quite sure if we have hands or bootstraps. We need some grid, some focus point to define ourselves by. Also, it is hard to avoid the sneaking suspicion that we ourselves may not be quite as good as we ought to be. That deep down in our souls there may be things that really should not be actualized. But if we cannot be sure we can trust ourselves, who can we trust?
It is at this place that God comes in. First, He does not just flatter us. He sees that imperfect character deep within us, sees it more clearly then we see it ourselves (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6) and loves us anyway (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). As a result, He sent His Son to pay the penalty for all the wrong things we have ever done (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He can therefore offer salvation freely to those who put their faith in Him (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Philippians 3:9). This results in our being declared righteous in the sight of God (Romans 3:28; 8:33,34; Galatians 2:21). We are made His children (John 1:12,13; Romans 8:14-17; Ephesians 1:5). And because of that, it is His judgment that really matters, not what other people think of us or even what we think of ourselves (1 Corinthians 4:3-5; Romans 14:4; James 4:11,12). Now if we put our faith in Christ, God will begin to work in our life to transform it (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:11-14). But our identity is not based on what we can do, but on what Christ has done for us. And it is only in this that our identity is secure.