Who are you?
What gives a man his identity? On what foundation are you building your sense of self? Your answer, whether true or false, defines your life.
Wrong ways of defining who we are arise naturally in our hearts, and the world around us preaches and models innumerable false identities. What are the ways men get identity wrong? Perhaps you construct a sense of self by the accomplishments listed on your resume. You might identify yourself by your lineage or ethnicity, by your marital status or parental role. Your sense of self might be based on money, on achievements, on the approval of others, on your self-esteem. Perhaps you think that your sins define you: an angry man, an addict, an anxious people-pleaser. Perhaps afflictions define you: disability, cancer, divorce. In each case, your sense of identity comes unglued from the God who actually defines you.
Who God says you are
God's way of sizing up a man goes against the grain of our instinctive opinions and strategies. Rather than giving in to the culture's view, allow these biblical realities to orient you:
- Your true identity is who God says you are. You will never discover who you are by looking inside yourself or listening to what others say. The Lord gets the first word because he made you. He gets the daily word because you live before his face. He gets the last word because he will administer your final "comprehensive life review.
- Your true identity inseparably connects you to God. Everything you ever learn about who God is--his identity--correlates specifically to something about who youare. For example, "your Father knows your need" means you are always a dependent child. "Jesus Christ is your Lord" means you are always a servant.
- Christ gives a new identity in an act of mercy. Then his Spirit makes it a living reality over a lifetime. When you see him face to face, you will know him as he truly is, and you will fully know who you are (1 Corinthians 13:12).
- Your new and true identity connects you to God's other children in a common calling. It is not individualistic. You are one member in the living body of Christ.
But that's not all. There are a few foundational truths that we need to understand in order to root our identity in the right place. Don't skim through. You will never be gripped by these truths if you treat them merely as an information download.
- All good gifts, beginning with life itself, come from God. The Lord sustains every facet of our existence; we are entirely dependent on him. And, our dependency as created beings is compounded, complicated, and intensified by sins and by sufferings. To know ourselves truly is to know our need for help. Faith knows and embraces this core identity: "I am poor and weak."
- The Lord is merciful to the wayward. He redeems the sinful, forgetful, and blind. Faith knows and embraces this core identity: "I am sinful--but I am forgiven."
- The Lord is our refuge. Our lives are bestet by a variety of troubles, threats, and disappointments. We aren't strong enough to stand up to what we face. God's presence is the only safe place. Faith knows and embraces this core identity: "I am a refugee."
- Christ is Lord and Master. He bought us with a price; we belong to him. We need someone to tell us what to do and how to do it. Faith knows and embraces this core identity: "I am a servant, indentured for life."
- Our God is good, mighty, and glorious. He is worthy of our trust, esteem, gladness, and gratitude. Faith knows and embraces this core identity: "I am a worshiper."
Every core aspect of a man's identity expresses some form of humility, need, submission, and dependency before the Lord. Our culture and our hearts might claim that masculinity means being independent, self-confident, proud, strong, assertive, decisive, tough-minded, opinion