Three Reasons I Don't Believe in Myself

Yesterday I spent three hours in Walmart waiting for my car. I'd brought it in for an oil change and a tire fix. (On the way to see "Snakes on a Plane" a few days earlier I hit a pothole and then it started going flat every day, slowly.)

Around the start of hour 2, I wandered toward the fairly anemic book section and picked up a well-known motivational pastor's offering on self-improvement.

The author has seven main points, all of them things like "develop a healthy self-image" and none of them things like "realize that only Christ can save me." And it's a Christian book!

I do not believe in myself. There are many reasons for this, so in the interest of getting something done that looks like real work today, I've pulled out three of my favorites.

1. I don't believe in myself because I do bad things. Every day. Even when I try really hard. On the days when I have the best self-image, I still sin. I can't get around it no matter what I do. I'm undisciplined, lustful, greedy, selfish and love junk food and television, frequently more than I love my quiet time with the Lord.

2. I don't believe in myself because I want to be in charge of my own life and often try to wrest that control of my path away from God who really owns it. When I hear God's voice I don't always jump to obey it-- my first reaction is usually "You don't really mean that." I try to escape the responsibility God entrusts to me. I am not always a good and faithful servant.

3. I don't believe in myself because I've hung onto a lot of crutches that aren't Jesus and so won't help me in the end. I haven't trusted enough to jump completely into Christ's arms; at best I've rested one foot on the cross but kept the other one in the mud because I think I'm keeping my options open. I talk about surrender and obedience and the joy and freedom that comes from them, but I don't act like I believe it.

I am not interested in self-help. I am in grave need of self-replacement. I believe God has in fact given me my body and soul, personality and talents, but I don't believe He's intending me to use them on my own, but instead to give them back into His control, since only He knows how to work with them for the glory of the Kingdom.

This morning I wrote the title to this post and then went for devotions with my dear friend and colleague Marty C. And I found these words in the Gospel for today:

"[Jesus said] I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true." --John 5:30-32

"You search the scriptures because you believe that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?" --John 5:39-44

I love when the Scripture challenges me this way, and when the Word coincides so well with what's been worrying me, I know there's something to pay serious attention to there.

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