“What do people think about us now?” Is a thought that I often obsess over..
This is a very dangerous path to go on, especially if you have an active imagination and a sensitive disposition as I have. The right question to ask is this: “Does my identity lie in the opinion of others or is my identity in Christ?”
This is a massive challenge for me. How we like the good opinion of others, and if you’re like me, I often need validation from others in order to feel good about myself. This is crippling, as the opinion of others is flawed at best, and fluctuates, and is completely subjective and unreliable. Even so, my perception is that the opinion of others matter.
I seem to be learning lots of lessons in the pit. It seems to me that God is teaching me one hard lesson after another, with very little opportunity of taking a breath in between. There seems to be no let up, and as soon as one sin is sorted, another pops up ; a sort of spiritual “splat-the -rat.”
Genesis 1:27 says:
So God created mankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
I love the account of God creating man. He makes man in his image – with his attributes and his likeness. We see Adam and Eve in a loving relationship with one another, and with God. It’s such a beautiful picture of God walking and talking with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day. There seems to be no awkwardness or fear, just a loving and transparent relationship between God and man.
We were created to be in relationship with our maker and to walk with him and have fellowship with him. Sin has spoilt this open and transparent relationship, and has put the most awful barrier up between us and God.
As Christians, that barrier has been removed. We are now in a restored relationship with our maker because of Christ’s death and resurrection. We are where we should be, and our identity should be in him. He is our loving Heavenly Father, and he has written to us through his word, expressing how we should live our lives to the fullest because our identity hinges on the one who loves us best.
Colossians 3:2,3 says:
Set your minds on things above , not on earthly things.For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God
when I look to the world for direction and identity it says :
give him a hard time; Let him understand how much you’ve been hurt; don’t ever trust him again; remind him often to keep him humble; tell everyone how he’s hurt and spoilt everything ; humiliate him as he has humiliated you; leave him.
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement ( Matt 5:22) ; love keeps no record of wrongs. ( 1 cor 13 ) ; hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs (proverbs 10:12); above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins ( 1 Peter 4:8 )
I find it very easy to be swayed by the reaction of others.
I will give you an example : if I know someone is struggling or hurting as a direct result of my husband’s actions, I can take back that forgiveness in my heart and take back the resentment I’ve left at the cross. It results in a bitter and accusing attitude. Can you imagine if Jesus did this every time we hurt him? We need to ask God for huge amounts of help in seeing the huge debt we all owe. Our sins are vast and many, but God has forgiven them all through the Lord Jesus. They have been hurled into the depths of the sea and God has deliberately chosen to forget them.
My identity has got to be in Christ, and my view of my husband has got to be shaped by who he is in Christ . When I am tempted to be influenced by what people think, or I am influenced by hurt caused to others, and I am tempted to take back that forgiveness, I must fly to Christ, and remember that my forgiveness cannot fluctuate – Christ’s forgiveness is firm and absolute. However badly we behave, however many times we hurt and disgrace him, God’s forgiveness is complete and totally unconditional – concrete! I pray that I may respond to my husband and others in the way God has responded to me.
Help me to understand that when you forgive us, you never hold it against us. Help me to forgive fully and completely, and not take that forgiveness back because I am swayed by the opinions of others. That my forgiveness would not come with caveats, but it would be full and complete as you have forgiven me. This is a very hard thing to do, but I can do all things through you who gives me strength. Help me to really understand that if I don’t forgive, then you won’t forgive me when I sin again you.
Thank you for your amazing example and your amazing forgiveness, and help us to honour you in all of our actions and reactions.
Lord help me in this,