After a long day at work, walking home, head to the ground, I heard my name. It was the voice of a friend who I had bumped into. I had just left a shift where I’d made mistakes and was reflecting on them.
Being drowned in my thoughts hindered me from having a conversation with my friend. Starting a new job has made me aware of my inner brokenness, insecurities and a deep rootedness of fearing man.
Paul’s words resonate with me. Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians, chapter 1, verse 10).
Perhaps you also struggle with falling into the fear of man? I hope you can come on this journey with me and feel encouraged too.
It is easy to be controlled by our fear of man. How occupied our minds become when we are always worrying about what others think about us that there is little room for any of thought. How long the road of self-pity and false guilt carries on until we’re suddenly immovable.
Many hours I’ve spent in bed worrying about my mistakes and what they will portray me to be. We believe that our failings somehow define us. We believe that if others aren’t pleased with us, we are somehow criminals.
So easily these thoughts weigh me down as if I were wearing an over-sized coat. Reflecting on my daily actions, I see myself living like a former slave who is still wearing her chains. Dragging myself through the day buried in the make-believe thoughts of others.
But if I am a former slave, why am I living with my hands cuffs on? It is tiring living in this slavery of pleasing others as I am so busy pleasing everyone that I please no one.
If our hearts are full of our own wretched “I ams,” we will have no ears to hear His glorious, soul-satisfying “I am.”
Hannah Whitall Smith
As believers, we are no longer defined by our failings but Christ’s victory.
As believer’s we no longer need to carry baggage and wear old rags. We are instead called into freedom from suit cases of criticisms that hindered us from changing or moving forward.
We are instead dressed in new clothing purchased by the blood of Christ. We wear white, not scarlet. We wear Saint, not sinner. We wear loved, not unloved. We wear His amour, not the slave’s tunic.
If someone were to shop for new clothing they wouldn’t go to the shop that sells dirty rags, they would purchase clothing that was untouched and perfectly woven. Like us, why do we choose to wear our insecurities when we could wear Christ and his righteousness. If I were to wear my own righteousness, I’d last a few moments before becoming naked.
There is no clothes of my own that I could wear but Christ’s I can depend on to be new always, nearing tearing or wearing away. The following verses encourage us to shake off old clothing and live as free people.
You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. (1 Corinthians chapter 7, verse 23).
You are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir (Galations chapter 4, verse 7).
Therefore, there are two options when looking at the wardrobe of life – old clothing where we wear criticisms most days and successes on rare occasions. Or new clothing where we wear Christ’s affections towards us because of what he has done.
Take advice yet live in grace
Tomorrow there will be mistakes you’ll make and there’ll be criticism that you must take. It’s beneficial having others around us correcting and helping us become better people. However, know that these criticisms and mistakes do not define us as God’s children.
Good works don’t define us either. Remember that only God’s words over us define us. If we depended on our good works for our self-confidence, there would be no hope for our bad days.
Tim Keller says it well, “If our identity is in our work, rather than in Christ, success will go to our heads, and failures will go to our hearts.”
Days where criticism pervade our heart as ugly falsehoods about our identity hinder us from trying again. We get knocked down and have no way to get back up because we were depending on praise from others. If we are so worried about others’ opinions, we won’t want to try anything new in fear of failure.
Knowing we wear new clothing helps us try again knowing that even if we get it wrong, we aren’t defined by our failings but by his love for us. My mistakes or my successes don’t influence his thoughts towards me.
Constructive criticism and advice the bible encourages. When tomorrow comes and your mistake is corrected, acknowledge what has happened and learn how you can do better next time. Thank those who give advice.
When you feel tempted to let thoughts ruminate, turn to Jesus and know you wear His righteousness. Not your own. After all, wearing clothes that fit is much more comfortable than those that don’t.
Renee Jenner resides in Sydney, Australia and is currently in her third year of studying Social Work. She is the first born of home-base missionary parents whose ministry has made a huge impression on her heart. She always writes from the soul to the soul, desiring to encourage readers to enjoy God, relax in His goodness and spread His love to the utmost parts of the earth. She loves a good cuppa with a deep, thoughtful conversation. You can find her other writings at renee.jenner.wordpress.com
Renne Jenner’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/renee-jenner.html