Did you know that according to personal observation it is almost impossible for a human being to walk by a mirror and not look at themselves? Did you know that when you are giving a photo to someone and their picture is in it with a group of people, that the very first person that they look at is themselves?
Did you know they did a study of five and six-year-olds and they found that how a child views him or herself is a higher determinate of success than even their IQ? Did you realize that how you view yourself is pivotal in the quality of your life and the quality of your relationships? It’s what I call “Mirror Madness.”
We’re all involved in it every day. We’re all asking and answering questions, sometimes it’s physically when we look in the mirror. But more often it’s emotional and psychologically as we look into people’s eyes, and we have these thoughts, as we look into the mirrors of life. And some of the questions we’re asking are: Who am I? Where do I belong? Do I fit? Am I okay? Am I competent? Am I a somebody? Am I significant? What are other people going to think of me?
So, let me ask you, when you look at the mirror, what do you think? When you look into the mirror what do you see? Do you see someone that is unique, beautiful, wonderful, full of potential? Or do you look in the mirror and say, “Oh, I wish I was a little taller, a little shorter, a little thinner, a little stronger.”
When you walk around in your world, what are the messages that you say to yourself? Do you look at other people and say, “Boy I’m glad they’re the way they are, but I’m glad who I am.” Or do you unconsciously say, “They all look happy. They’ve got it together. They have lots of friends. I don’t think I’d fit in. I don’t think I’m worth very much. I hope no one asks me anything, because I’m sure I don’t have much to say. If I really got to know them, I know they wouldn’t like me.”
Do any of those thoughts ever float through you mind? They do for most of us. See, the problem with the “Mirror Madness” is that there are more distorted mirrors out there than there are good mirrors. And distorted mirrors will destroy our lives. Because a distorted mirror doesn’t tell you the truth about who you are. A distorted mirror, it gives you a picture of what’s not true.
Have you ever gone down to the Boardwalk and gone through one of those fun houses or at a carnival, and they have the section where the weird mirrors with all the bends in them?
And you stand in front of one mirror and you look like you’re about one foot tall and nine feet wide and you all laugh and go, “Ha, ha, ha.” And then you go to the next mirror and they do it differently, and you look like you’re about three inches. That makes some of us feel pretty good, but you’re, like, nine feet tall?
Those are really funny except, you know what the reality is? The reality is for most of us, all of our lives, through our culture, through the media, through multiple relationships and family, we have distorted mirrors that have been telling us stuff about us that is totally untrue.
Can you imagine living if the only mirror, what if there was never a real, true mirror and you walked around looking like you do, but you thought in your mind, “I am one foot tall and I’m nine feet wide.” Now, the reality wouldn’t change, but if you thought that way about yourself, just imagine how you’d buy clothes. Imagine certain places you would never go. The beach would be out for you.
Let me give you three distorted mirrors. The first is the appearance mirror. We are shot through with it, especially in this country. It says: My value depends on how I look. So, we find pretty people and we give them millions of dollars, we give them all kinds of make-up, wind machines, and multiple surgeries so they fit this ideal. And then we all try and be like that person. It’s how you look.
The second distorted mirror is the performance mirror. My value depends on what I can do. You’ve got to be good. You’ve got to be successful. You’ve got to be a great athlete. You’ve got to be a great student. You’ve got to be a great artist. You’ve got to be a great this. You’ve got to be a great that. You’ve got to be able to do, do, do, do, do. And so your whole life, your whole value revolves around your performance. If you do well you’re great. If you don’t do well you’re a loser.
The third, distorted mirror is the status mirror. My value depends on what other people think of me. And so we dress, talk, drive, buy, go to certain groups, don’t go to certain groups, eat certain things, don’t eat certain things. Why? Because it matters what everybody thinks.
Those three distorted mirrors are tools that will destine you, and destine me, to feel inferior. Because the rules always change, don’t they? It’s a no-win situation. We’re talking about how to overcome inferiority and low self-esteem.
My thesis is: until we see ourselves as God sees us, we are destined, not maybe, we are destined to feel inferior. Until you, and until I, can see in my mind’s eye, that can sink down into my emotions, how God looks at me, as the true mirror of who I really am – that my value doesn’t depend on how good I am, my value doesn’t depend on how I look, and my value doesn’t depend on what other people think – until you get free of those things, you are destined to feel inferior.
Now, before I go on, let me highlight something. What I’ve said so far, most of you, you haven’t nodded because it would be embarrassing. But in your hearts most of you have been going, Yeah, man, that’s right, man, um-hmm, I don’t like me very much I mean real down deep.
But there’s a small percentage of you, and you wouldn’t say this either because it would be more embarrassing, it’s sort of like, “I like me. In fact, I wish most people were like me. In fact, the world would be a lot better like me.” And you look in the mirror and you say, “This is how people ought to look.”
And when you go to work everyone’s slower than you. And you’re thinking, Man, if they could just get with the ballgame. And these kind of people often project ultimate confidence, like they’ve really got it together. Can I tell you something? Everyone feels inferior. Inferiority just wears multiple masks.
Paul Tournier in a book that literally transformed my life, the book had one thesis and then the rest were stories. He’s a Swiss psychologist of many years ago. The book is out of print, but the book was called The Strong and the Weak.
The thesis of the book: Every person is desperately inadequate and insecure. And all of us, as human beings, will either express that with strong reactions or weak responses. So, we’re all insecure, we all have this feeling that something’s wrong, that we’re inferior, and so some people will be shy, withdrawn, low self-esteem, I’m not worth much, no one wants to hear me, I probably wouldn’t do very well, I don’t want to try because I’d probably fail, I know they won’t like me, to cover their insecurity.
But, there’s another group of people who are just as desperately insecure, who say, Man, I’ve got it together. I’m going to be on top of this. They’re powerful. They’re aggressive. Hey, get out of my way. And you know what those strong things are doing? Covering the same insecurity. I know, I was that person growing up. Arrogant, loud, pushy. Because I was so afraid if anyone saw who I was really like inside, I knew they’d reject me.
Here’s what I want to do today. I want to tell you that you do not have to be in bondage any longer to the distorted mirrors of our world. But you can do three things, three keys God’s going to give us today. Now, it’s going to be a lifetime of working it out, but you can get the data today. There are three keys to getting what I call a healthy biblical identity or a healthy self-concept.
The first one has to do with knowledge. You must get God’s view of you. You’ve got to see yourself from God’s perspective. It’s knowledge. Remember what Jesus said? “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Good job. If you don’t know the truth about you, you’ll believe lies. But knowing the truth doesn’t change your life. The second key is you must believe God’s view is true. See you can know it, but think, That’s for everybody else, but not me.
And then third, you must discover the you that’s true. You’ve got to experience, you’ve got to get involved in some risky, out of your comfort zone, relationships where you actually experience, through people, being deeply loved and deeply affirmed. And we’re going to talk about how to do that.
So now, by the way, what I’ve given you today you can do a Bible study for the next week or two. I’m going to just highlight, because what I want you to do is get the big picture. I’m going to give you five reasons why you are very significant, regardless of what the world may or may not say.
You’re significant first because you are unique. Jot that down. Genesis 1:27 says you’re made in the image of God. Psalm 139:13 and 14 says, “For you, God, created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You’re works are wonderful. I know that full well.”
You’re unique. You are not one in a million. Your DNA is different than any other person on the face of the earth. God created you uniquely. That makes you significant. It’s like an original piece of artwork. There’s an original piece and there are prints. God doesn’t have any prints. You’re an original. So, you’re significant.
Second, you’re significant because you are loved. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving kindness.’” Because of some things in my background, I have a hard time with that. The performance trap is mine. I feel loved when I do well. And I feel not loved when I don’t do well. That’s a lie.
I’ve been working at letting it soak into my mind, seep into my heart, and realize: God loves me unconditionally, not because of anything I ever have done or I ever will do, but because He is Creator, I am creation, and I am the object, I am the object of His love and compassion.
See, God doesn’t love somebody, somewhere out there. He loves you. He’s totally committed to you. He knows your situation, your struggle, your hurts, your depression, your relational chaos, your dysfunctional background, and He looks at it all and He says, “I love you and I want to be close to you.”
Third, you’re significant because you are valuable. 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You have been bought at a price therefore, honor God with your body.”
See, we always evaluate things by what they cost, right? Now, I would never want to be a slave of any kind in any situation. But if I were a slave and they were selling us, I’d like someone to walk up and say, “I’ll give you five million dollars for Ingram,” because if I’m going to be a slave, I want to be a valuable one.
I don’t want someone to walk up and say, “I’ll give you $5.95 for him and I don’t think he could lift a thing.” The fact of the matter is though? We’re all slaves. Before you trusted Christ, the Bible pictures you, and pictures me, as being in the slave market of sin, bound by desires and lusts that we can’t break out of. And the Lord walked in, as He saw you on the block in the slave market of sin, and He says, I’ll take this one, this one, this one, no, you know what? I’ll take them all. Price tag?
The death of My Son, the blood of Jesus paid on the cross as your substitute. That’s how valuable you are to God. And we get uptight, like, Oh, God doesn’t care about me, and won’t He show me what’s going to happen in the future? And what am I going to do about this? “He that spared not His own Son, how will He not with Him freely give you all things?” Our problem is not that God doesn’t love us. Our problem is we don’t believe He loves us.
Fourth, you are significant not only because you’re unique, loved, and valuable, you are secure. Things that last have a lot of value. Paper plates aren’t worth much in my home. You eat off them, they’re done. It’s priceless heirlooms – they’re going to last. That’s what’s valuable.
You want to know how long every believer in Jesus Christ is going to last? How secure? Ephesians chapter 1, verse 13, it says, “And you also were included in Christ,” speaking of believers, people who have come to Christ. Well, when did this happen? “…when you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Having believed at a point in time in our life, we need to come to where we believe in Christ, that He died in our place, and we receive Him as our Savior. “Having believed,” notice this, “you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”
You’re secure. The word picture here meant a lot to people when this was written because in Roman days they would put a seal on a document. The wax and then the emperor would put his ring on it. No one could break that document except the power and the authority of the emperor.
God says when you trust in Jesus Christ and accept the free gift of salvation, you are sealed, but not with wax and not with a ring, but it’s with the authority of God Himself He seals you and marks you off by the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Scripture says that the Holy Spirit is a down payment or literally, it’s earnest money to remind you of how valuable you are and that every promise God ever made to you in Scripture is going to be true.
I’ve heard of people, they’re putting their house on the market and they get two or three bids. They’re getting more than they’re asking. And as they do that, what do you ask people to do? To put down earnest money. You put fifty thousand dollars down on a house, you’re pretty interested. And you know what God has done? He’s put down earnest money. He’s placed the Holy Spirit in you, as a believer, as a deposit, to let you know He’s committed, and you’re secure.
Now, wait a second. Do you really think this way about yourself? Do you believe that you’re loved, that you’re secure, that you’re valuable, that you’re unique? Let me give you one more.
[Fifth], according to God, when He looks at you, not the person next to you, we’re talking about you, you are indispensable. Indispensable. Ephesians chapter 4, the apostle Paul is talking about the Church and how God put it together. And the Church isn’t a building. It’s just a place where anytime believers are gathered, that’s the Church.
I encourage you to take those passages and do a little Bible study and let it sink down through your mind into your heart.
First, you need to understand faith is built on God’s Word. Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God.” I do not understand this. I don’t understand it, but I’m telling you that when you expose yourself to the Scripture, when you hear the Word of God, when you read the Word of God, when you put Christian music on that has content, and lyrics, and truth, faith grows.
Secondly though, it’s not enough just to be exposed to the Scriptures, it grows when you renew your mind. Romans 12:2 tells us, “Don’t be conformed any longer to distorted mirrors. Don’t be conformed any longer to this world, but be transformed” – how? Metamorphosized – from within – changed, “by the renewing of your mind that your life or your lifestyle could demonstrate what the will of God is. That it’s good. That it’s acceptable. That it’s perfect.” The key is the renewal of your mind.
See, one of the things, I’ve got some real problems with the whole “positive thinking” movement. They promise pie in the sky, you think it, think and grow rich, think and do this, think and do that. A lot of that is, think and buy their books and they get rich, is how it works. But there’s a tremendous kernel of truth in the positive thinking movement. You know what it is? You are what you think. You are what you eat and you are what you think.
Whatever you think, eventually, because that’s scriptural, Proverbs 23:7, “As a man or a woman thinks in her heart, his heart so he or she becomes.” Now ask yourself. You watch twenty to twenty-five hours of TV, you read three or four cheap novels, make sure you get in the sports page, the business section, every day, or four out of five days.
And you put all that information combined with all the commercials, all the billboards, and all the people you meet, and their agenda is to say: your value depends on your appearance. Your value depends on your status, your value depends on your performance. What do you think you’re going to believe? Lies.
But if instead you took some of that time and you began to take seriously mastering the English Bible. In fact, memorizing key passages and studying it, and getting God’s view of you, you know what’ll happen? You’ll be transformed. You’ll be transformed because you’re going to be what you think. You only have a hundred and sixty-eight hours every week, and if you think that forty-five minutes or an hour or so here together is going to offset the content of what’s going into your head the other hundred and sixty-seven, you’re dreaming.
For some of you, memorizing some Scripture in the next four to six months, if you got really serious about it, could change and transform how you think about life, into how you feel, and that would change all your relationships. But, it’s hard work.
In fact, more than renewing your mind, I think you have to come up with a plan. Notice, three, develop a plan to remove the distorted mirrors of the world with the mirror of God’s Word.
I stole this material from my wife. I watched my wife for over five years read this every morning and read it every night. These are affirmation statements from Scripture about appearance, belonging, worthiness, security, and competence. She didn’t try; it wasn’t legalistic. She didn’t say, Oh I’ve got to read this this morning. She wanted to see herself how God sees her, and so she would read in the morning.
“Appearance: my physical appearance and my unchangeable aspects are beautiful or handsome in God’s sight. He is my designer and maker.” And then she kept reading it over and she memorized the passage underneath.
“Belongingness: I am wanted, appreciated, and loved by God, the most important person in my life.” She affirmed that. She’d pray and just let it wash over her.
“Worthiness: I am now a righteous person in God’s sight since I’ve trusted Christ.
I am covered by the robe of His purity and goodness. Also, since I have a new nature, I am a good person in my general practice of life as I continue to grow in Christ.”
And she would read this over, and read it over, and you know what happened? I watched my wife, like a flower, bloom. Years it took, to where she began to look in the mirror and say, “I’m unique. I don’t have it all together. I’ve got a lot of room to grow, but I’m not a bad person. And what other people think of me is their own personal business. I will not give it the power to determine whether I’m an okay person or not.”
I put that in there because some of you, some of you what we’re talking about, if we were one-on-one and we knew each other better, tears would be coming down your cheek right now, because you don’t like you. You don’t like you at all, and you’re hurting down deep inside. And you know what’s amazing?
Some of you that feel the most this way are some of the prettiest, most talented, gifted people in the room. There is no correlation, no correlation whatsoever between how you really look, act, feel, competence, and what goes on inside. I’ve learned that over the years. But God can change you. How does it start? You get God’s view of you, number one. Number two, believe God’s view is true.
Now, three, here’s the kicker, and my wife told me to warn you all, especially those of you this is hard, alright?
So, I’m going to warn you. She said, “Chip, make sure when you get to number three that you let people know they may not be able to do this one alone. They might need a coach. They might need a cheerleader. Chip, we’re different in personality and you’ve got to make sure to tell people. For some people this is really a scary thing.”
And what I want you to know is that I’m going to ask you to do some things that will be really hard for some, but if you’ll do them, God will show up.
Because, see, you can know it, you can start to believe it, but some things can never, ever become a part of your psyche and your life until you experience them. So, you have to discover the you that’s true.
Jesus taught this way. Remember when Peter was in the boat and Jesus was walking on the ? He believed. “Is that You, Lord?” He said, “Yeah!” Peter said, “Well, if it’s really You, I believe, then have me walk out to You.”
What did he learn when he was walking on the water? It’s true! It’s true! And then he did what we do. And he looked around and he said, “Uh-oh.” But that’s how faith grows. It’s true, it’s true. Uh-oh. It’s true, it’s true. Uh-oh. That’s life. The spiritual life isn’t this. The spiritual life is this. But notice the direction. Lots of ups and downs.
Remember when they were fishing? Jesus let them experience it. They’d been fishing all night, they heard a sermon, He wanted them to have some faith in who He really was. You have to discover it. You have to experience it.
So, Jesus says, “Hey, why don’t you take your nets and throw them out on the boat on the left side?” They’re professional fisherman. Their basic answer is, “Look, we’ve done this a little bit ourselves. We’ve been out all night. They don’t bite at this time of day,” you can almost hear them say. “And there are no fish here.”
And you can almost hear, as you paint the text in your mind, Jesus sort of looking at them like, “Humor Me, guys. Just humor Me; just throw the net out.” And they do and you remember what happens. It’s so filled with fish that the nets start to break. How did He teach them? It wasn’t just lecture. It wasn’t just intellectual, cognitive, faith and belief. You have to discover it. Here’s the axiom. Here’s how a lot of things transpire in your life.
The principle is Luke 6:38, “Give and it will be given unto you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, for by whatever measure,” the idea is a scoop, “by whatever measure you give, in that same measure it will be given back to you.” Now, that passage is often quoted with reference to money. It’s true. But that passage is not a money reference in Scripture.
You go read Luke and you’ll just find it is in a section of Scripture that talks about how life works. When you give away friendship, what happens? People want to be your friend. When you give away a listening, attentive ear, what happens? People want to listen to you. When you give away compassion, what happens? People are compassionate to you.
When you give away short, quick, abrupt, rude actions toward others what do you get back? It’s axiomatic. Some things can only be learned by experience. I’m going to give you five things, and by the way, this is a mouthful.
Someone asked me, “How long does it take to prepare messages?” This one took about twenty, twenty-five years. I’m dead serious.
These are things I’ve been learning for twenty-five years, and I’m just skipping over the mountain peaks, and encouraging you to go back and study, because all I want you to get is the big, main points. See yourself the way God does, believe what God says about you is true, and then discover the you that is true by experiencing it. Let me give you five key ways to begin to experience what’s true of you.
Number one, unwrap your spiritual gift. 1 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 1 says, “Now about spiritual gifts brothers, I don’t want you to be ignorant.” God wants every person in this room to know that you have a supernatural ability, if you’ve trusted Christ, if you’re a part of His family.
He’s saying every believer has a supernatural ability, at least once. When you put that out on the playing floor of the body of Christ, boom, stuff happens. People get loved. And you know what happens when you exercise your spiritual gift and you see people moved and changed through you, guess what happens to you. God used me. Maybe this is more real than I think.
Second, unleash your spiritual passion. Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord; He’ll give you the desires of your heart.” Some of you have these desires, but you’ve never shared them with anyone. You’ve got a desire to see disabled people reached for Christ. You’ve got a desire to see what would happen to third graders. You’ve got a desire for an Hispanic ministry to grow. You have a desire for people to meet in homes all over the county and study the Bible, and become close friends. You have all these passions and desires. Nobody knows what they are. And you’ve not put them out on the playing field.
You know why? Because no one would ever want to listen to someone like you. And if you tried it, of course, it wouldn’t work, would it? Of course not. An inferior person like you, like me? Hey, unleash them! Unleash them! Get them out there in the playing field of the body of Christ and see what God will do. This is the part where those of you are thinking, This guy’s nuts. Theresa was right. This is scary. You’re right. Give and it’ll be given unto you.
Third, use your God-given talents. Speaking of the building of the Temple, the Lord says, in Exodus 31:3, “And I have filled him with the Spirit of God with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” Some of you can work with wood. Some of you can crochet. Some can work with computers. You have all kinds of talents. You know where a lot of the talents are in this room? Buried under the floor. We don’t even know what you can do. Because you’re thinking, Oh, well, I mean, that’s…
You know what? When you’re really talented, here’s my almost ninety-nine percent experience with talented people. Everyone here has talents, but the one that you’re good at, because you’re good at it, you say, “Aw shucks that’s nothing.” Yeah, for you. For the rest of us, it’s like, “Whoa, where’d you learn how to do that?” “Oh well, my dad played the guitar and I just started picking a little bit,” and [makes guitar noises]. You know?
And you know, you’re saying, “Oh, I don’t know much about computers. I just taught myself,” [makes computer noises]. You know? “I don’t build anything. I just tinker out in the garage and, you know, it’s forty-five hundred square feet. I did it in a week.”
Hey, get your talents out there! Let us know what they are. Put them into play. Serve people. Take your gifts and say, “I want to serve people.” Get your passions out on the playing floor. Take your talents and say, “Hey God, I’ll help somebody with these. I don’t think it’s much, but I’ll put them into play.”
Fourth, embrace your God-given personality. 1 Corinthians 2:11, the Living Bible says it well, it says, “No one really knows what anyone else is thinking or what he is really like except that person himself. And no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.”
You know what? There are different personalities. There’s not a right one. Have you got that down yet? You don’t have to be upfront, outgoing, visible, motivating people. And you don’t have to be sly, and cool, and reserved, and stoic. You can be you. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re laid back, be laid back. If you’re driven, get driven in the right direction.
Just, do you know who the most attractive personality in the whole world is? You! There’s only one of them. Why copy something else? Put it into play. Pull off the mask. Just be you. A sanctified you, Lord willing. A Spirit-controlled you, Lord willing. But just be you. The person that people will most be attracted to is not you trying to fulfill what you think they want. It’s you being who you really are.
Fifth, leverage your past experience. Romans 8:28, great promise, it says, “And we know that in all things God works for good of those who are loved by Him who have been called according to His purposes.”
Some of you have educational experience. Some have vocational experience. Some of you have marriage experience. Some of you have parenting experience. Some of you have suffering experience, and you’ve been through the agony of cancer, or of a divorce.
Or you’ve been through a childhood that was just unmentionable. God doesn’t waste pain. 2 Corinthians chapter 1 says that the comfort and the grace that God gave to you through your pain, He wants to take that so you can comfort others in the same way. God doesn’t use people’s strengths, normally. He usually uses your weaknesses. When someone has it all together and says, “Hey, do you want some help from me? I’m really good at this.” Most of us say, “No, not really.”
But when someone walks up to you and says, “Boy, I struggled with that, too, and you know what? My dad left when I was five too. And I’ve surely had some struggles and here’s what the Lord showed me as I’ve grown up without a dad.”
Leverage your experience. Do you hear what I’m saying? Let’s get out of the cubicle. Let’s move out of the little TV room with the entertainment center.
Let’s get out of the fences that go all the way around that keep our life safe. Let’s get out of making sure our 401K and all those things that we think are going to keep us secure that won’t. And let’s serve other people. Let’s get our focus out on others because here’s the axiom. Ministry is how God makes what’s true of us, true in us. Think of that.
Ministry, giving it away, is how God makes true in us what’s already true, of us. Sometimes it’s only in the act of loving others that we can fathom that we ourselves are loved.
Sometimes, you can only fathom how deeply loved you are when, by giving love to another, God lets you see how very real it is. I struggle with grasping that God loves me, unconditionally.
“For even the Son of Man came” – what? “not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” to serve. Are you hearing it?
Believe what’s true, but discover it by giving away what He’s given you. Risky? Yes. Need a cheerleader? Probably. Need a coach? Yes. Need help? Absolutely. But according to a Gallop Poll, only ten percent of all laymen are involved in ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ. Fifty percent of them said they have no interest. I feel sorry for them. I feel really bad for them because they’re ignorant. I don’t mean bad ignorant.
People that have no desire to be involved in ministry, they’re going to miss out on the richest blessings of life. But forty percent of them said, “No one’s ever asked me,” or, “I just don’t know how.” I’ll tell you what, if you’re involved in ministry here, I’d start asking people to join you.
People just need to get hooked up, put their gifts into play, get their talents on the playing field. You must get God’s view of you. You must believe God’s view is true and you must discover the you that is true. Let’s go for it.