At different points in our lives we are confronted with different forms of the same question –
“Who are you?”
Often the question comes as a challenge to our competence. We are tempted to define ourselves by what we are able to do and/or how well we can do it.
Sometimes we are enticed to delineate our lives in terms how well regarded, received or "important" we are. The eyes and approval of others become our measuring stick.
Alternatively, we may be incited to understand ourselves and portray ourselves in terms of power – how much (or who) we can gain and control for our own purposes.
These three false measurements of identity are common to all of us. Different ones will be weighted in different ways, nuanced with different language and tailored to fit/attack our specific personalities and susceptibilities. However, these kinds of temptations are bait for the traps of pride or self-condemnation for all of us.
Which temptation bites more deeply...
“It is for freedom that Christ has set you free!” (Galatians 5:1)
The apostle Paul was convinced that Jesus came to set people free from the bondage of religion. Religion – in this sense – refers to the constant concern about doing things rightly, and the guilt that accompanies falling short on a regular basis.
In Romans Paul wrote, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “Falling short” is the human condition. And, the consequence/wages of that sinful condition is death – death of our souls, and eternal death.
Unaddressed sin dulls our souls and makes our spirits lifeless. However, we must be reminded again and again and again that “the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Religion tempts us to try to justify ourselves by our actions or intentions. Freedom in Christ releases us from self-justification, so we can be honest. We don’t need to dig...