Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Criticizing ourselves

We are our worst critics. We criticize ourselves constantly and harshly. And in terms of our relationship with others, this causes us to do one of two things to other people: 1) Criticize them just as bad as we do ourselves, or 2) Idolize them because we find them to be everything we are not. Either way, our relationship with our family, friends, and acquaintances is damaged; the image we have of one another is crooked. And it all starts with how we see ourselves. However, I’m not going to start talking about how we need to have high self-esteem. No, because I think that the focus on self esteem might actually be part of the problem.

You see, we focus too much on ourselves, and that is not what God intended for us. God commands us to fix “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). God wants us to focus on Him, to think less about ourselves, and more about Him and His will. Some of us focus too much on what we don't like about ourselves, the parts of us that we just can't stand, that we want to change. On the other hand, some of us focus too much on what we like about ourselves: how beautiful we are, how smart, how talented, how athletic, how savvy we are. And here's where our high or low self esteem comes into the picture. But that is not what God intended for us to do.

Do you know what is the chief end, the purpose, of men and women? Do you think it's to look ourselves in the mirror and criticize or admire what we see? Do you think it is to constantly think about ourselves and how awful or great we are? No. The chief end of men and women, our purpose, our reason for living is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It's that simple. So simple. Too simple for some. We are not called, were not created to focus on ourselves, to compare ourselves to others, to look to others as idols or as people to put down.

It is not a matter of having a better esteem of ourselves. It is a matter of stopping to look for esteem in ourselves. Focus on God, on what God wants you to do. Focus on loving God and loving your neighbor. Focus on your relationship with God. Focus on serving others.

Strive to be like Christ; don't compare yourself to anyone else. Don't waste time looking in the mirror. Look to God, fix your eyes on Jesus, and live according to His Word. If you have your eyes on God and your heart set on serving others, your perception of yourself will change. You'll be able to see yourself as God sees you and you will be freed from criticizing yourself and criticizing or idolizing others. Live for God by His Spirit.