Finding Your Identity
My heart longs to please. For most of my life, what others have said or thought about me has been the wind – or lack thereof – in my sails. The praise I would receive from performing well was intoxicating. Likewise, a harsh critique, or even just a lack of acknowledgement, served as a barrage of insult continuing to weigh on me far after the matter was resolved. I believed the reactions I brought forth from others were markers of my identity – praiseworthy or failing. This desire for approval, coupled with the truth that my emotions are generally worn right on the edge of my sleeve, has essentially given others power over me.
Most of us, in some way or another, can relate here. We give so much of our energy and focus over to the relationships that we build. Galatians 1:10 warns against this in very distinct language, saying that trying to win the approval of others means that we will “not be a servant of Christ. “
What does Christ desire, then? What does the God of the universe, the Creator of Heaven and Earth desire for us? Rather than the bondage of being a slave to others by giving them power over our lives, Christ desires for us – in a word – love. His own Love, in fact.
In Matthew 22 Jesus states that the greatest commandment of the law is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” He goes a step further to list the second greatest commandment as, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
You see, it is completely normal to live a life focused on our outward relationships, living and dying by the words of our colleagues, competitors, and companions. However, we are not called to live a normal life. We are called to live a godly life. This begins with pouring out everything we have not to others, but to God. It begins by understanding our identity in Him.
Loving God with everything I have means, literally, with everything I have. And I can do that because I see throughout Scripture how deeply He loves me. I love because He loves. He has already lavished His love upon me in an immeasurable way by His relentless pursuit of me – all the way up from the grave! Plumbing the depths of His love enables me to love Him. It takes me from the bondage of seeking man’s approval to the freedom of living from God’s approval of me in Christ!
I must not forget the second greatest commandment, either. Once I begin to love God fully, I can then love myself and others properly and truly. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Because of who I am, I want to make that commandment about others. Love God. Then love others. Except, that is not what the Savior has said. He said I can love others “as myself.”
As I understand how much God loves me, it wells up from the depths of my soul a love for Him. It also roots my identity in nothing else but Him. I am dearly loved. I am a child of God. I no longer live from what others think about me. I am stayed in Him. And now I can love others well because I am not putting the unfair burden of creating my identity on those around me. Rather, I am speaking the same life and love that I have found into them.
I still desire feedback and feel love through words of affirmation, but I no longer live and die by these words. I live by the Word, Who has spoken freedom over me by the power of His love. I may fall short sometimes. I may even fail. But I now know that I am not a failure. I am a child of God, created for a purpose, doing my best to live for Him.
Lord, help me accept the freedom that comes from Your love. Free me from the bondage of seeking the approval of others. By Your Spirit in me, make me bold to live out my identity in You. - Jason Simon, Minister to Students