Faith Versus Believing in Yourself

10460I like to watch weight loss shows. I think there is something satisfying about watching tangible transformation take place. However, I also hate watching weight loss shows because so much of the “life coaching” and counseling that the fitness celebrities give is hopelessly empty and sets the clients up to fail. The clients put all their hope in the trainer and the trainer painstakingly encourages the clients to believe in themselves!Oprah’s website is replete with articles on “believing in yourself”. The gospel of “believing in yourself” has even made its way into our churches! (It is spun as “faith”, but really the impetus rests on one’s ability to have enough “faith” which, when you boil it down, is still believing in yourself.) The largest section in bookstores is the self-help section which is chock full of books containing believe-in-yourself-type advice. In fact, Americans spend $549 million dollars a year on self-help books. That’s certainly not self-helping their bank accounts![source 1="http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2014/01/14/self-help-books-and-promise-change/4nJqRBpinOSWQ4wU536jPP/story.html" language=":"][/source]Is believing in yourself wrong? Aren't negative thoughts damaging? Wouldn’t it follow then that if you have less negative thoughts about yourself you’ll be a better person? There HAS to be something to improving yourself by believing you’re better than or capable of more than you think you are!Here’s the problem I’ve found. Watch, and really listen to this video from fitness celebrities Chris and Heidi Powell. What are they saying?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujzRZP8NjCUWell, that certainly sounds simple! Why is it so hard then? Why do so many people struggle? Why do people grow increasingly dissatisfied with their lives even after spending so much of their time and money on self-help books, trainers, life coaches, etc. in order to feel better about themselves? Because this way of thinking isn’t an actual solution. It just serves to feed the beast. Listen to this quote from pastor Timothy Keller:“It is a trap to say that we should not worry about everyone else’s standards, just set out own. That’s not an answer. Boosting our self-esteem by living up to our own standards...sounds like a great solution. But it does not deliver. It cannot deliver...I cannot keep [my own standards] either - and that makes me feel terrible, unless I set incredibly low standards. Are low standards a solution? Not at all. That makes me feel terrible because I realize I am the type of person who has low standards!” (The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, pgs. 27-28)Watch the end of the video again. What is their solution? Lower your standards. Having low standards in our society is sugar-coated with promises of small victories and freedom from pressure and responsibility, yet they are empty promises. They can’t deliver. When people finally realize they can’t even meet their own standards it can lead to solutions like this one from dead British philosopher Alan Wilson Watts.The-meaning-of-life-is-justAre you beginning to see through all this a little bit? If it's true that “we’re human” and “we are not perfect” (and it is) why would we believe in our imperfect selves? The solution isn’t to try harder, believe in yourself more, lower your standards, or just be alive without worrying about achieving anything beyond yourself. The solution isn’t even found in accomplishing everything you could have ever dreamed of!Listen to Madonna during a Vogue interview:My drive in life comes from a fear of being mediocre. That is always pushing me. I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being but then I feel I am still mediocre and uninteresting unless I do something else. Because even though I have become somebody, I still have to prove that I am somebody. My struggle has never ended and I guess it never will. (The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller, pg. 22)And Tom Brady in a 60 minutes interview:Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be … I love playing football and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find.(source: http://spurgeon.wordpress.com/2008/01/10/tom-brady-super-bowl-rings-and-ecclesiastes/)And this Jim Carrey meme:quote-i-think-everybody-should-get-rich-and-famous-and-do-everything-they-ever-dreamed-of-so-they-can-see-jim-carrey-289119So what is the solution? If we can’t believe in ourselves, where do we turn?We put our faith in Someone who is far greater than us. We trust Someone who is perfect and beyond our understanding. We "cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us!" (I Peter 5:7).When we strive to make sense of life by ourselves, we’re believing that age old lie from Genesis 3 when the serpent says, “Did God REALLY say…?” and we end up thinking we know better...we got this...if we try hard enough we’ll figure it out eventually. We weren’t made for that kind of thinking. That’s where we’re broken.Thankfully our God was not content to have our only option be to grope around at empty hope and lesser saviors. Rather than justly require that we believe in ourselves or honor our druthers as we struggle to achieve the impossible, He selflessly became a man and succeeded where we failed by DENYING Himself and giving His life for ours! That’s why He can be trusted. That’s why we can put our faith in Christ. He was willing to be made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), at His own expense, for our good. And for those of us who put our faith in Him, He continually acts on our behalf, interceding for our good and His glory (Romans 8, Hebrews 7:25). Doesn’t it make more sense to place our trust in a perfectly loving, sovereign and unchanging God who literally gave His life for us, rather than place our trust in ANYTHING else...including ourselves?What are some ways this practically plays out?Isaiah 40:28-31I can strive to lose weight knowing that, even if I fail, God loves me and calls me His own no matter what I look like. When I place my faith in Christ, His acceptance is unconditional. It is not based on appearance. How refreshing is that in light of what our culture values?!?! He is also tireless in His love and pursuit of sinners. If I’m made in His image, that makes me want to tirelessly pursue honoring him with my body and inspires me to get after it!2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Matthew 28:18-20 & Philippians 4:13...God has given me something to live for, and His perfect standards call me to greatness that I would never be able to achieve apart from faith in Christ! By faith I can strive to “achieve something beyond [myself]” because God is with me and already approves of me. When I put my faith in Christ, God the Father looks at me and doesn’t see my sin! He sees Christ’s righteousness on my behalf! I don’t need to worry about what others think of me, or even what I think of me. The fact that God gives thought to me, knows me intimately and STILL loves and approves of me is more than enough for me. My life has transcendent purpose now based on who I am in Christ and what He has called me to do for His glory.John 17I don’t have to feel pressure to be famous or make a name for myself because I’m called to make Christ famous and glorify Him. And guess what...He’s actually worthy of fame and glory! Way more than I am! I can therefore use whatever platform I have to glorify Him instead of scratching and clawing to find things in myself worthy of praise and recognition. Furthermore, I can put my faith in a God who promises to one day reward and recognize me for the things I do for him! The God of the universe rewarding and recognizing me?!?! I’m not worthy of that. What grace that I don’t have to seek out a reward or recognition from people because I’m already glorified in Christ. In addition to a future reward, I have salvation and an eternal hope through Christ right now! That’s the greatest reward of all. It is unbelievably freeing to live for the glory of the One who deserves it instead of living for the glory of me.Viewing life this way and being able to write it out in a blog post is the easy part. Actually living this way and not defaulting to “believing in myself” while walking through life is extremely challenging. I fail at it every day. Ironically, that is one more way to show that placing my faith in Christ, rather than myself, is the only hope I have. What grace and mercy He has to save a self-focused sinner like me! (Titus 3:3-7)For more on this subject I highly recommend Timothy Keller’s short book calledThe Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: the path to true Christian joy 

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