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Timely Topics for Teens series
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Lesson 6: What do you Think about Yourself?
Do you feel sorry for yourself? Do you feel that you just don't have the chance in life that others have? Do you hate the way you look or where you live? Do you feel that somehow you've been cheated?
This kind of thinking is deadly. Whether you realize it or not, it affects your relationship with God and your ability to make friends. It's hard to love God and trust Him when you think He didn't give you a fair shake in life. And it's hard to get along with other people when you always have a chip on your shoulder.
You say, "Yeah, that describes my problem perfectly. But what I want to know is this—How can I get out of this trap?"
You get out of this trap by changing the way you think about yourself. You need to develop self-esteem. We are not talking about being proud or conceited or putting yourself up on a pedestal and expecting everybody else to bow down to you. We are talking about having the proper respect for yourself, realizing that you are worth something and that God has a wonderful plan for your life. Let's see what the Bible says about our relationship with God.
God created every person
The Bible tells us that God is the Creator of all men. Did you know that God knew all about you, even before you were born? David said,
"Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born…" (Psalm 139:14-16 The Living Bible)
There are some things over which we have no control. No person chooses his parents, his race, his social background, or his physical make-up. God is the One who determines these things. Since this is true, we have nothing to be ashamed of regarding these matters, and we have nothing to be proud of either. The Bible says, "What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn't given you?" (1 Corinthians 4:7 The Living Bible)
God esteems every person
Next, we need to see that God esteems every person highly. God wants us to have respect for everyone, including ourselves. If you make fun of someone because of their physical characteristics or their social background you are reproaching God because He made them. The Bible says, "He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker…" (Proverbs 17:5) To look down on or despise another person is a great sin in God's sight. Since this is true, it is also wrong to despise yourself.
God loves every person
We need to see one more thing: God loves every person. God doesn't look upon the human race as one great mass of humanity. He sees us as individuals. He loves us as individuals. To put it plainly: You are important to God. You need to realize this. You need to realize that God loves you. The Apostle John said, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." (1 John 4:16)
With this in mind, let's see the steps we can take to develop a sense of self-esteem and purpose in life.
Get to know God.
It is through faith and love that we get to know God. But how do you get faith and love? By choosing to have faith and love.
Faith is not something that somehow falls out of the sky and hits us. We can CHOOSE to trust God or we can CHOOSE not to trust Him.
It is the same way with love. Love is not some warm, gooey feeling inside that you either have or you don't have. We can CHOOSE to love God or we can CHOOSE not to love Him. And our love for God is not determined by how many blessings He has given us. The people who have the most in life are often the most unthankful. On the other hand, we have all seen people who had very little in life, yet they were happy and always praising God for His goodness to them.
What are we getting at? Just this—You may not understand your situation, but you can CHOOSE to trust God and love Him. When you do, you will open the way for God to do wonderful things for you. In PSALM 91, God tells us what wonderful things He will do for the person who sets his love on Him. He says,
"'Because he loves me,' says the LORD, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.'" (Psalm 91:14-16)
Believe that God has a plan for your life.
God is a God of purpose. He has a plan and a purpose for everything, and you can be sure that He has a plan and a purpose for your life. Since this is true, doesn't it make sense to believe that God created you in a particular way so you could fulfill this plan?
Will you take another step of faith now and say, "God, I don't understand a lot of things about myself, but I do believe that You have a purpose for my life. And I believe that You made me in the way You did so that I could fulfill Your plan in my life. I thank You for making me exactly the way I am."
If you can pray that prayer from the heart and really mean it, you have taken a giant step toward developing the right attitude toward yourself.
Realize that God is not through with you yet.
The Bible says,
"And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns." (Philippians 1:6 The Living Bible)
When you are saved, God begins working on you. He will continue to work on you as long as you live.
The Bible says, "we are God's workmanship…" (Ephesians 2:10) The word "workmanship" has been translated "masterpiece." God is working on us to make us one of His masterpieces—a unique, original masterpiece! Not just a copy of somebody else. Doesn't it thrill your heart to realize this?
Begin to cooperate with God.
If God is to make you one of His masterpieces, He must have your cooperation. You see, God will do nothing for us without our free and wholehearted consent. If we want God to change us, we must put ourselves into His hands each day, telling Him that we want Him to change us.
Suppose that a great artist was working on a picture when suddenly the picture jumped off the easel and said, "I don't like the way I look. I'm leaving." The artist would surely say, "Wait! I'm not finished with you yet."
A picture can't do that. But we can! We can become dissatisfied with God's ways and say, "I don't like the way I look. I'm out of here!" When we do this, God's heart is saddened because we are not giving Him a chance to finish His work on us.
Use the abilities God has given you to fulfill His will for your life.
The Bible makes it clear that some people do have more abilities and advantages than others. It also makes it clear that God expects more of them. The Bible says, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48) Because of this, we should not envy others.
It boils down to this: You are going to be judged by what you do with the abilities and opportunities God has given you. I am going to be judged by the abilities and opportunities God has given me. Therefore, we should accept the place in life that God has given us and determine to glorify Him there.
I will never forget the first time I saw the mountains of north Georgia in the fall when the leaves were turning. I was traveling between Chatsworth and Ellijay. I reached the top of the mountain and rounded a bend. There, stretching out for miles and miles, was the most beautiful view I had ever seen. There were big trees and little trees. Some had red leaves, some had brown leaves, some yellow leaves, some green leaves. There were shrubs of all sizes and varieties. They all combined to form a panorama of exquisite beauty. My heart was filled with praise and adoration for the One who created such an unforgettable scene.
What made that scene so beautiful? Simply this—every tree and shrub was fulfilling God's purpose. God planned that scene. Each tree and bush was different; yet all fitted into God's master plan.
Let's apply this to our situation. We are all different. God doesn't make any two people exactly alike. But He has a purpose and a plan for each one of us, and He has a master plan that we all fit into.
When we fit into the plan that God has for us, we not only bring glory to Him, but we find fulfillment, happiness, and joy.
Begin now loving God and trusting Him. Thank Him for making you the way that He did. Determine that you will do your best to glorify Him, right where you are. Let Him fulfill His plan for your life.
That's what life is all about.
PASS IT ON...
Do you have a loved one who is suffering from the aches and pains of old age? Share this little article with them. It was written by Dr. Robertson McQuilken, former President of Columbia Bible College.
She was very old and very crippled with arthritis. She lived alone and I was taking her to town on an errand.
"Robertson, why does God let us get old and weak? Why must I hurt so?" She was not really asking. Just suffering aloud.
"I'm not sure. I have a theory, though. Maybe someday I'll tell you."
"Not someday. Right now. I want you to tell me right now."
We turned toward home. "Okay," I said, "I'll tell you my theory. I think God has planned the strength and beauty of youth to be physical. But the strength and beauty of age is spiritual. We gradually lose the strength and beauty that is temporary so we'll be sure to concentrate on the strength and beauty which is forever. And so we'll be eager to leave the temporary deteriorating part of us and be truly homesick for our eternal Home. If we stayed strong and beautiful we might never want to leave! It's sad to see people struggling so frantically to preserve the physical, never developing the strength and beauty of spirit. In the end they are left with neither—weak and impoverished in body and spirit."
My friend liked my theory! I know because she passed it on.
Of course, it's more than a theory. The life of the Christian is not a candle that glimmers lower and lower to extinction.
"The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day." (Proverbs 4:18)
God keep us growing strong and beautiful.