CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
The Skin We're In
Judging our own Flesh
Lea Ann McCombs
Many people struggle with accepting the way they look. Be it ethnicity, height, weight, or physical features, we tend to focus on the negative and despise ourselves for not looking the way we want to look. Especially for those whose race is a minority, it can be difficult when that ethnicity draws unwanted attention from others. While many African American, Asian, and Hispanic people are proud of their heritage and the uniqueness of their appearances, others have the opposite attitude. So feeling inferior is not the result of one's appearance. It is a wrong response to the appearance that often began when they got the message: "You're not good enough."
The way we see ourselves is usually a product of our upbringing and early childhood experiences. The way we handled them then, or were taught to handle them, can play a huge role in our future outlook. We can trace the roots of our self-rejection by thinking back to the first time we remember feeling inadequate because of the way we look. What message did you receive? It may not have been intentional on the part of the other person or group, but somehow you internalized Satan's lie that God made a mistake.
It's the same lie he used on Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He has used it ever since, because we fall for it every time. The basic idea is this: "God does not know what He is doing. He does not understand that He messed up and is depriving you of what you need to be happy. Therefore, you have a right to disobey/dishonor/disagree/disapprove of His job performance and take matters into your own hands." Your appearance is not the problem: your attitude can be.
1. The first step toward healing the heart is to acknowledge that we have been cooperating with our enemy in agreeing with his lies about God. To do so is sin. We can repent of sin and receive God's full pardon (1 John 1:9).
2. The next step is to ask ourselves what defines our value. If we gauge our worth by the world's ever-changing standards, we'll never quite make it. The world doesn't know who we are. It doesn't even know who it is; yet, we rely on its very neurotic opinions to define us. If you have been born again as a child of the King (John 3:3), then you have transferred ownership of your life to the lordship of Jesus. That means you have given Him the rights to define you the way He designed you to be. The One who designed you is the only One who can define you.
3. Another important aspect to consider is why you are here. We are not here on this planet for ourselves. We're not here for other people either. We are here for the purposes and pleasure of our Creator (Colossians 1:16). He made you that way because He LIKES you that way! To be created in the image of God means that He put a little of Himself in every one of His human creations. You were designed to reflect His glory in a way that only you can. A prism is beautiful because no side reflects the light in the same way.
We are created to be like mirrors that reflect His beauty, as the moon reflects the sun.
When we reject or deny the way He has created us, that's a little bit of the glory of God that the universe never gets to see. We were not created to reflect culture, fashion, or the beauty of another race. You were created to reflect Jesus. So when we try to use our lives to produce their own light, or to reflect someone else's, we are like mirrors with mud smeared over them. No light or beauty can be reflected there.
When we judge our worth according to fashion magazines, TV celebrities, or popular opinion, we end up on the same dead-end road they are on. But when we choose to wear the identity Jesus bought for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), we can walk in joy, grace, and a beauty that is not limited to physical appearance.
For those who may not be sure where they stand with God, this link will explain in detail what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. For those who already walk with Jesus, it is important to evaluate the kinds of entertainments you are taking in. Whatever we feed, grows. So if we are feeding wrong thoughts, wrong attitudes, and wrong desires, they only grow stronger. However, if we feed our spirits with godly input, those harmful strongholds lose their power.
Evaluate all music, TV, movies, or literature with this question: Does this lift my heart upward toward God or pull me down into worldliness? Regardless of the label, if any optional input fails the test, reject it. If you fill your life with worship, praise, good teaching, Bible study, and Christian fellowship, you will find that you stop caring so much about how you think you look, or what you think you ought to look like.
Romans 12:1-2 says that we should offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord. We can break that down to mean the specific areas of our appearance that we don't like. Give Him your hair. Your skin color. Your facial features that trouble you. Make them an offering to Jesus and then take your hands off. They're not yours anymore. He can do with them what He pleases. Dedicate them to His glory and then ask how He would like you to present them in public.
When we consider that we are not our own, we then begin to live as borrowed property (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are living in these bodies temporarily, and while we do, they belong to God, so we take care of them. But pretty soon, we will change addresses and these bodies will be glorified for all eternity (1 Corinthians 15:50-52). There will be no comparison with each other; we'll all be radiantly perfect in every way, unique jewels shining for the pleasure of our Savior.
You can start now by surrendering yourself wholly to Jesus and offering the parts of your body to Him as a sacrifice. Confess any sin of criticizing His right to make you the way He made you. Ask Him to be Lord of every part of you, including those physical aspects you don't like. Then ask Him to show you how to reflect His glory through the unique gifts and abilities He has given you. He designed every one of us for purpose, and when we begin to live that purpose, physical appearance ceases to be so important.
Image Credit: Nicole.Kelly; "Dirty Glass"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life
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Published on 7-25-17