If you believe the images you see out there, women are feeling better about themselves than they have in decades. Positivity is finally getting the momentum it deserves and we are coming into our own.
Do you remember the children’s tale by the wonderful Hans Christian Andersen, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? In the story, the Emperor is duped into paying two weavers to create a new suite of royal clothing that will be more resplendent than any he had ever owned.
He was also told that the clothes would only be visible to those who were worthy. Anyone unfit, stupid, or incompetent would be unable to see them.
I’m sure you know the rest of the story. The Emperor is paraded through the streets in his unmentionables, and the crowd (reluctantly) offers applause, flattery and rave reviews. No-one has the courage to admit they don’t see his new clothes.
It took an innocent child to cry out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” Only courage can speak words contrary to the tune that society is marching to.
So Long Self
Originally published on Joyful Life Magazine Blog
Self is on world tour and playing to sell-out crowds. The headlining show – Self-Promotion – is garnering rave reviews and standing ovations.
The tour showcases acclaimed performances by Self-Love, Self-Worth, Self-Care, and Self-Affirmation. Repeat performances are booking across the globe. It seems fans cannot get enough of SELF.
SELF is a BORN NATURAL
Self has always known immense popularity. However, by all appearances, is currently enjoying unprecedented revival. The proliferation of self-promotion is no doubt fueled by some unflattering coverage self has suffered in this era of social media. Paralleling extraordinary growth in opportunities for expression, self has seen an unexpected (and ironic) increase in the maladies of loneliness, isolation, and depression. For many, social media has magnified feelings of self-doubt.
The cure, we are told, is more of self —we simply need to exchange our negative self-thoughts for positive self-thoughts. If applied faithfully, words of self-affirmation will eventually shore up our insecurities and improve our self-esteem. More “Me time” to focus on self-care is vital. We can’t love others if we don’t love ourselves first.
The “more self” message is incredibly enticing. The tune draws us in because it perfectly resonates with our sin nature. It’s only when we overlay the “love yourself” message with God’s Word that we are able to hear the dissonance.
Christ and His kingdom are antithetical to the culture of this world. When our thoughts become aligned with the world’s message, we are very likely out of sync with the heart of the Father.
God’s Word tells us that self is the real enemy — and not to be trifled with. Self will never be content to merely headline in your life. Its sights are set much higher. It is human nature to desire an earthly kingdom: constructed of selfish goals, dreams, and aspirations — and ultimately to seat self upon the throne.
There is only one solution to the insatiable needs and desires of self: LESS of self and MORE of Jesus.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30 ESV
Paul the apostle said his life as a Christ follower had one purpose: to share the hope found through faith in Jesus so that others might know Him. He considered all other self-pursuits a waste.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8 ESV
He went on to say that he was willing to yield his life to invest in others — to sacrifice self for the benefit of their faith.
“Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” Philippians 2:17, ESV
One fact speaks more loudly than all of our social psychology, intellectual rationale and humanist rhetoric.
~ Jesus Nailed Self to the Cross ~
Jesus’ heart was one of surrender and humility. In complete denial of self, He set aside His throne, the opulent riches of heaven, the adoration of a million worshiping angels, and unimaginable glory so that we could have life.
To be a Christ follower is to become more like Christ — to be increasingly conformed to His image — to have a heart that reflects His heart. Jesus did not live in pursuit of earthly reward, but yielded self-desire to the will of His Father. He freely exchanged self-love for love for others.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 ESV
The cure for the maladies of self is not the repetition of the current cultural mantras: I am worthy. I am enough. I deserve. That strategy doesn’t work. Cheering ourselves on may serve to temporarily prop up our spirits, but in our hearts, we feel the hollow echo of those words. We know the answer to our problems does not lie within us.
The cure is to proclaim what is true: Jesus Christ alone is worthy. He is enough. He is perfect, beautiful and holy. His worthiness covers my sin and shame.
Joy and contentment are not found in the placation of self but in the overcoming of it. Only by dying to self do we experience genuine freedom and become everything we are created to be in Christ.
As our focus shifts from self to Jesus, we begin to see ourselves through His eyes — the recipient of His extravagant love and undeserved grace. We are highly valued, ransomed at significant cost, and worthy because we are clothed in His righteousness. We are beautiful because we are His. Our worth lies in our identity as a child of the King of kings.
The view of self through the lens of His love leaves no room for negative self-image, self-neglect, or self-condemnation.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24, ESV
Redemption paid the price for our emancipation from self. The Self Tour is over.
Through the power of Jesus’ blood, we are no longer a slave to the never-ending demands of self. We are free to discover who we were created to be in Him.
Our story becomes significant because it reflects His story. Our journey is worth traveling because it leads us to Him. Our message has value as it echoes His truth. In pursuing Christ, we truly find ourselves.
LORD, Give me the strength to yield to more of You and less of me. I pray that You would consume me and fill me with your Spirit. Let the spot-lights fade, the curtain close, and self simply fade into obscurity as You alone are glorified in my life.
©2019 Tabitha Meglich Photo: Pixabay
Originally published on Joyful Life Magazine Blog, under the title “Denying Self in a Self-Promoting Culture” (modified for re-posting)