About Me

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Bedford, Texas, United States
Pastor of Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Bedford, Texas and former Professor of Old Testament. But mostly I am a husband of an amazing wife, father of gifted children, and servant of an AWESOME God.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

But What About You?

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. (Galatians 6:3-4, ESV)

Last week I wrote on the inter-relationships of my immediate family and how each of us had an important role to play in the health of our family. I used this as a jumping off point of observation concerning my church family and the same phenomenon being present within it – something God Himself ordained and designed to be true. Many people noticed that in my description of my siblings and their personality, gifts, and contributions, that I omitted myself. My response to that observation has been that I don’t know if it was humility or pride that kept me from such inclusion. Truth be told, I believe it was certainly the latter, rather than the former.

Personal evaluation can be quite difficult for anyone. This is especially true for believers. By nature, we struggle with the call to self-denial and humility that is at the heart of so much of our walk with God. Pride, being the very essence and origin of our estrangement from God, weighs heavy on our mind. So, when we come to the matter of self-evaluation we battle with knowing if the lens we view ourselves through is even remotely appropriate. Self-denial is not the same as self-denigration, and humility is not the same as self-loathing…yet those are the extremes we sometimes want to take our evaluations.

In Galatians 6, Paul talks about the mutual reliance of believers on each other. He states that in order to achieve this we have to not think too highly of ourselves. But he also emphasizes in verse 4 that we can find satisfaction (reason to boast) in who we are and what we have done in, through, and because of Christ. That is, we are able to live with clear conscience before God because of how His presence has been manifested in our lives (cf. "For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you" (2 Corinthians 1:12, ESV)). This truth suggests that there is a sense in which we can carry out proper self-evaluation...but how?

I believe there are several steps we can take in this process:
- Refusing to compare ourselves to others - Let’s start with Paul’s own instructions in Galatians 6 “in himself alone and not in his neighbor.” Paul instructs his listeners to find the worth and value of their deeds in their own relationship with Christ, without comparing themselves to others. The logic of this advice is obvious – comparing ourselves to others will inevitably lead to a faulty evaluation – either because we see ourselves as better than we are because we “not like them” or because we see ourselves as unusable because we don’t have the talents/gifts another person has. God has gifted us all to His own purpose and design…seeing ourselves through that lens is a portion of what it takes to understand our value and our limits.

- See our strengths and gifts as something God has given. The Bible constantly points to the fact that every good gift comes from the Father…our life comes from the Creator, our salvation comes from our Savior, our provision comes from the Provider. We cannot grow too arrogant about any gifts we may possess, if we first understand they are GIFTS.

- See even our “quirks” as something God can use. We all have those traits that we identify as less than ideal. More often than not, these are the parts of us that most cause us to devalue ourselves. But I believe that they are traits that when placed in God’s hand, can help us to see our value in/to His work. Moses was stubborn – God turned this man who would argue with a burning bush into a man who would stand before the most powerful man in the world at the time and say, “Let my people go!” Saul/Paul was obsessive about getting the job done. God turned this pursuer of His people for death into a pursuer of others for Him, creating the greatest church planter the world has ever seen. Whatever trait you are troubled by, see it through the lens of the One who can accomplish great things through those who are His and surrender it all to Him.

- See our value not in how we view ourselves, but how the One who made us and knows us best views us. True self worth is not found in our own esteem, but in the esteem God holds for us.  C.S. Lewis wrote, “The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the saved soul to whom Christ says ‘Well done,’ are pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, ‘I have pleased him; all is well,’ to thinking, ‘What a fine person I must be to have done it.’”(Mere Christianity)

A sinner saved by grace is no longer characterized by the doubt, fear, shame, and guilt that marked His sinfulness; but instead is known by the freedom, humility, value, and boldness that emanates from the grace that covers him. He is finally truly able to love and be loved and in that knowledge and from that perspective, we can begin to truly evaluate ourselves.

So what about me in my family? Well, to be honest, I am not really certain. My siblings were out of the house before my formative teenage years and I moved away from home at 17 to go to college and have yet to reintegrate in a meaningful way into the family dynamic. I am only physically present with them about once a year, so it is hard to say exactly where I fit into the greater tapestry of who we are together (yes, I recognize the blog post that could be made based on this truth about being unable to know who you are and what your gifts are if you are never present at church!). In most of my life (and at church) I am the teacher, explainer. Whether we are talking about conflict resolution, bringing understanding about others and about concepts, or plotting a course toward the future, I function by teaching. This trait has come out at times among my siblings in a variety ways, but there simply isn’t enough of a sample to say that is my niche. So basically, among them, I would say I am the follower (it may be the only time in my life that I am). It’s a necessary role – everyone has someone they can push around :-). I have worked hard to get where I am in life and I take satisfaction in the results of that hard work, but when I go home, I am just “baby brother” – and I enjoy that status. In my family, I am able to love and be loved - and at the end of the day I would say that is who I am!

1 comment:

Peggy Moss said...

Bro. Tim, this blog touched me with the depth of your response to the ability to approach the Throne of God in prayer and petition. I shared with my class a few weeks ago that I do not understand why we sinners unclean find it so easy and natural to come before the Holy God, the Creator of all good things, in prayer and petition, but find our mouths shut when we are presented with the time and opportunity to witness to other sinful men/women about the spiritual phenomenon that is our God. To God be the glory!