Yesterday I ran across something someone said about me that was less than kind, and painted me as a horrible person regarding an off-handed comment I don’t even remember making a couple of years ago. It reminded me that just because I can make a comment, perhaps many times it’s best to leave things unsaid. I truly didn’t know I had hurt this person that I barely know, but apparently my words stung. “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6)
I had the choice of two roads to take, to sincerely apologize and try to take God’s Word into my heart and learn from it, or I could have noticed that person’s way he spoke to me and become puffed up with pride. I chose the former, not the latter. I’ve actually been learning this particular lesson for several months. It’s up to me to take responsibility for my words and my actions, to humbly make an apology, and then to try to learn a lesson and move on. It’s the other person’s decision on whether or not they choose to accept the apology. Today I woke up not wanting to know what the other person thought of me, but I asked myself the question, who does God say I am?
The Bible contains the only reliable answers about who we are in Christ and what God thinks of us who have been born again. First and foremost, God says I am His beloved child: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 Jn 3:1) God is not timid about expressing His boundless love for us; He repeatedly affirms in Scripture that we are born of God, His very own treasured children:
- “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn 1:12-13)
- “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:26)
God says I am chosen, adopted into His family through Jesus Christ to be His child forever: “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved”. (Eph 1:4-6)
God says I am valuable. He calls me His workmanship: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10) We are not random lumps of clay. God says we are the result of His artistic skill and craftsmanship. God made us in His own image and likeness (James 3:9).
God says I am redeemed. So valuable are we to God that He purchased us with the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ: “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet 1:18-19) Through the blood of Jesus Christ we are forgiven and set free from sin: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph 1:7).
God says I am a new person in Jesus Christ. Through His salvation, we gain an altogether new identity and a whole new life: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor 5:17) He says I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:21), a living temple for His Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16), and a saint (Eph 2:19).
God says I am His ambassador (Eph 6:20), His light in the darkness, and His witness to the world (Matt 5:13-16). God says I am a member of Jesus Christ’s body: “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Eph 3:6). Because I belong to Christ—united with Him in His life, death, resurrection, and glorification (Rom 6:4-6)—God says I am an heir to His Kingdom and His glory (Gal 4:7), a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20).
God says I am exceedingly loved: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) So great is His love for us that He mercifully gave us life: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Eph 2:4-5).
As all these Scriptures show, it is only through God’s work within me that I have been saved. I am incredibly flawed, as we all are, but the Lord continues His work and uses words from others to continue to refine me. “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)
Thank You, Lord, for giving me the opportunity to humble myself to Your Word, and to seek what You say about me instead of others. Help me to remember and internalize this lesson. “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]” (James 1:19 AMP).