Getting To Know Yourself
“For in my inner being I delight in God’s law…” vs. 22
This year I have proposed that the theme for our church be Getting Deeper With God. Our first two weeks focused on Knowing God and hearing his voice in our lives. For the next seven weeks we are going to look at growing in a deeper relationship with God by focusing on being emotionally healthy. Much of this material I have gleaned from the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. His premise is that it is impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. I think that if we are going to grow into a deeper relationship with God that it is imperative that we look at, access, and move to a place of emotional health.
This is taking a new direction for us as we head into 2016. It’s like making a New Year’s Resolution. It’s amazing to go to the gym after New Year’s and see all the new people. People make all kinds of resolutions, eating, dieting, exercise, paying off bills, etc. I asked you to make the commitment with me to growing in a deeper relationship with God. I don’t want to be someone who makes a commitment and/or resolution and then give up a few days or weeks later. No, I am committed to doing the hard work and to sticking to that commitment and I am excited to grow close to God.
Let me start today with a quick story of one of my boyhood idols. I never saw him play but the legend about him I heard over and over again. He was the center fielder for the New York Yankees, he holds the longer consecutive game hitting streak, he was a three time MVP and was an all-star in each of his 13 seasons. The New York Yankees won 9 championships in his 13 years. His name: Joe Dimaggio and he had two nicknames; Joltin’ Joe and The Yankee Clipper. Another piece of notoriety is that he married one of Hollywood’s most gorgeous actresses, Marilyn Monroe.
After his death, a devastating biography of his life was published,. It related in vivid detail how Joe’s “image management,” right up til his death, was all a mask. It hid an egocentric, competitive, greedy, selfish man driven by power and money. The book describes his commitment to showing nothing but a shining face of his own devising and if you went against him, it was met with silence, exclusion, and rage. I thought he was cool, a baseball player, an icon, and that he had it all. The book says otherwise. I would have never know that.
Today, we are going to look at what it means to be the real you. Not the image that people may have of you, but the real you. We discover a lot from Paul on this in Romans 7. If you are able please stand as we read Romans 7:14-25.
Read Passage – Romans 7:14-25
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.
I was taught, as most of us were, to suppress my feelings. Growing up I hear things like; boys don’t cry, suck it up and be a man, never let them see your weakness, etc. Not too long ago it was more of the norm in our society to put on a rough exterior and to always put on a good face, especially when you were in public. I am going to approach a subject that may feel uncomfortable for many of you. I am going to be honest, it is difficult for me; emotions and emotional health. I was taught well and I struggle to identify my feeling and to let them show. Some of you (I can see) are squirming right now while others of you may be saying, “It’s about time they talk about this in church.” Here is truth, we all have feelings, even if you don’t feel them, aren’t aware of them, or if you suppress them.
Part of this idea comes in that we were created in God’s image. I am going to let you in on something that maybe no one has ever told you; God has feelings. It’s true. God has a wide array of feeling and being that we were created in God’s image, we have feelings too. Let me show you just a few of the feeling God has and the Scripture that back them up.
Goodness Genesis 1:25 And God saw that it was good )He delighted, was pleased).
Grief Genesis 6:6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
Jealous Exodus 20:5 I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God
Anger Jeremiah 30:24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
Love Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Compassion Hosea 11:8 My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.
Sorrow Matthew 26:37-38 and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
Distress Mark 3:5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts,
Joy Luke 10:21 At that time Jesus, full of joy
Now these are a few but there are definitely more. Again, my point here is that we were created in God’s image. God has feelings and he created us with feelings and emotions. Interestingly enough, note that God shares with us his feelings and he is not shy in expressing those feelings. For us to truly move toward emotional health we need to be aware of and acknowledge our feelings and emotions.
Your False Self
We have difficulty with being the real you because we tend to put our worth in the wrong things. In fact, if we aren’t careful, we fall into the trap of being a “false you.” In fact, Satan wants you to fall into these traps. These become our blind spots. How do we know this? Because he tried to tempt Jesus into falling into them and we are going to use the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 to guide us on this.
- I Am What I Do
The first trap is that, “I am what I do.” In Matthew 4:3 Satan says to Jesus:
“The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matt. 4:3
Our culture asks us the same thing; What have you done? What contributions have you made? Many of us put our worth in what we have accomplished whether it be in good deeds, our jobs, our family, in school, in church, in relationships, etc. When we haven’t done something considered “successful,” we are told to work harder, longer, and with more energy and tenacity.
- I Am What I Have
The second trap is that “I am what I have.” Again, Satan tempts Jesus with this in verses 8-9:
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Matt. 4:8-9
Our culture tends to measure success in terms of what we have and own. Who has the best or biggest house? Who has the most up to date gadgets? Ex. People stand in line for the latest iphone, the latest deal at Best Buy, etc. Who has the most attractive husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend? Who has the mot toys? Who has the most awards, the most degrees, attended the best school, etc.
Spiritually: Who has the biggest church or the most ministries?
When you fall in to this you are constantly comparing, evaluating, and judging. You have fallen into that you are what you have.
- I Am What Others Think of Me
The third trap is: “I am what others think of me.” Another temptation fro Jesus came in verse 6:
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Matt. 4:6
Many of us can be others driven. Satan tempts Jesus to throw himself down. In other words, if you are important enough to others, to God, his angels will save you. Most of us place a higher premium on what others think that we realize. What will people think if they find out I am a…janitor? Teacher? Pastor? Christian? Where my kids go to school? Where I shop? etc . We tend to go through life telling people all the goods things about what is happening in our life and very rarely share the struggles of mundane.
Developing The Real You
This paints a pretty bleak picture, doesn’t it? Yes, because we all fall into one of these traps at some point or another. In fact, if leads us to a place of disatisfiaction and confusion. Even Paul faced this. He says in verse 15:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” vs. 15
Satan is trying to steal the real you or make you doubt the real you. He tried to sway Jesus, he will try to sway you too! So how do you find out who your really are? Is there a way to find the right balance in life and a way to be emotionally healthy? YES! Here are 3 Biblical ways you can not only discover the real you but move to a place of emotional health.
- Look at God
First, don’t let others or even yourself determine who you are or your value. Look at God and allow him to fill you with value, love, and peace. Think for just a moment about how magnificent, incredible, and awesome God is. In some ways we can never understand how big and deep and vast God is yet, he has chosen to make himself known to us. This incredible God pursues us and wants to pour his love and peace into us! We are valued by this big enormous being, God Almighty. One of the things that Jesus came to do was tell us how much God loves each of us and that we matter; to God. In one of Jesus’ first major discourse, the Sermon On The Mount, he tells us not to worry because God cares for us. He says in Matt. 6:26:
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matt. 6:26
One of the things we have to choose is who to listen to. Spend time with God, in his Word, and hear how much you are loved.
Ex. Recent song we sing, Good, Good Father:
You’re a good, good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
The false you says you are what you do, the real you says I am love because that’s who I am.
- Life Together
The second thing to remember is that you were created to have life together, you were never intended to go through everything alone. God recognized when he first created man and he said in Genesis 2:!8:
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
This is a difficult point for us because when we go through difficulties, struggles and pain we tend to withdraw. But the Bible is full of examples of our need for life together:
God Himself – Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Nation of Israel – 12 tribes as one
Jesus – 12 disciples
Then sends them out in two’s
Peter and Paul – Sent to build the church
I’m sure you could come up with many more. Here’s the thing, we were designed for interaction and comradery. Even introverts need some people in their lives. Our issue is that we end up hurting each other and breaking trust. The church has been a terrible example of breaking trust and confidence. You can’t do it alone. You weren’t designed that way.
Challenge: Find someone you can trust and confide in. Be someone that others can trust and confide in.
The false you says you can do it alone, the real you says I was designed for community and for relationship. The ultimate relationship is with God.
- Live Differently
And third, to get to emotional health we need to love differently.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
I will warn you on this one, to live differently will feel awkward at first; maybe even feel wrong. But living differently says that I am open to my emotions and that I need to acknowledge them, even the negative ones. We easily embrace the good ones. It’s easy to express love, joy, happiness, compassion, etc. the difficulty comes in opening ourselves up to the negative ones.
Ex. Often people will tell me: Ron, don’t be angry. Little clue here, I do get angry and when I suppress it, I am a bear to be around. I never get to the point of renewal until I acknowledge my anger and deal with it.
Moving toward emotional health says I acknowledge those tough things, I work with them and deal with them in healthy ways. Why does the bible tell us to “Be angry but do not sin?” (Eph. 4:26) Because we deal with anger in the wrong way. We use it as an excuse to do the wrong thing, treat others poorly, and to exact revenge. Living differently says I deal with my anger and talk it out and come to reconciliation with the one I am angry with.
Living differently says I will be who God designed me to be. The false self says “I am what others think of me” and the real self says I will be all that God has created me to be and no less.
Finally, to live in these ways, we acknowledge, as Paul did, that our real self comes because of the work of Jesus Christ and his deliverance. We would be buried in sin and unhealthy ways but he came and died for us and paid the price that we might have freedom. This can all be confusing until we choose to live in the deliverance that Jesus brings. Paul acknowledges that in verse 25:
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” vs. 25
Jesus didn’t die for us to live in bondage but to be free, to be me! Getting to know yourself so that you might grow closer to and know God in a deeper way is the adventure of a lifetime.
Augustine prayed: “Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I might know thee.”
Note: Parts of this sermon are developed from Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero