Living In Your Own Skin by Larry W Peebles May 6, 2016 16.16
A friend of mine wore some flashy fashion jeans with decorative stitching and sequins, which admittedly are not my style. Good for him, I thought, go for bold and stylish. Make a statement. I thought it was good that he was confident in who he was, and was comfortable in those jeans. A person has to know and have a healthy perspective of self in order to live in their own skin. I’m not talking about clothes or fashion–what a person wears. I’m talking about being comfortable with the person inside the package everyone else sees from the outside. I’m talking about how we see ourselves–our own self-image.
Last year I wrote a three part series entitled “How Well Do You See?” This series compared our natural vision and the way we see things to the supernatural and the way God sees things. In this related article, I want to examine the way we see ourselves, and give some examples of the way God sees us.
In Numbers 13, Moses recorded the story of sending spies into the Promised Land prior to leading the children of Israel into the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Twelve men were chosen to explore, one from each tribe. The twelve included Caleb and Joshua (or Hoshea). Moses sent them to enter Canaan first with these instructions (v.17-20):
“Go up into the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they un-walled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.”
Ten of the twelve brought back this report: (v.27) “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.”
The other two, Joshua and Caleb, reported (v. 30) “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
But the ten retorted (v. 31-33) “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are…The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size…We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
Do we seem like grasshoppers in our own eyes? If so, we likely believe others see us the same way. This is not a healthy self-image, nor is it a godly one. How did the minority report from Joshua and Caleb differ so drastically from the report of the ten, the majority? The Bible gives us a clue on both men. Exodus 33: 7-11 says that when Moses met with the Lord face-to-face in the Tent of Meeting outside the camp of the Israelites, his aide Joshua would stay in the tent after Moses had finished his meeting and left. He wanted to linger in the presence of the Lord. Those encounters shaped his spiritual character. He was the man God named to replace Moses when his time for leadership had ended. Then in Numbers 14:24, the Bible says “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to [exploring], and his descendants will inherit it.” [Insert mine.] These two men sought after the Lord, and followed Him with all their heart. As a result of their time spent with the Lord, and their intimate knowledge of Him, they did not see themselves as grasshoppers. They knew their assignment from the Lord would succeed in spite of the appearance of the opposition.
Two other men in the Bible, Moses (Exodus 3, 4) and Gideon (Judges 6), saw themselves as small and inadequate for the task God gave them. They both offered a variety of arguments as to why they should be excused. When God told them both He would be with them in completing their incredibly large assignments, He expected them to change their perception of themselves and obey. They were strongly encouraged to see themselves as conquerors, not grasshoppers.
We are similarly encouraged to perceive ourselves not as other people see us, and not as we see ourselves, but rather we should perceive ourselves as God sees us. As our Creator, He gives us unique abilities and purpose. He knows our heart and character better than we do. He did not create us to be small and insignificant.
Consider then, what the Scriptures teach about us as His creation. Most of these promises are conditional upon our closely following God with our whole heart, and obeying His word and commands as did Joshua and Caleb:
- Deuteronomy 28:1-14- this entire passage is so rich in promises to those who obey the Lord it should be read in its entirety for encouragement if your self-perception is that of a grasshopper. As an over view, it speaks of God’s blessing on the land (the field we work), and the works of our hand. It also includes making us the head, not the tail; being at the top, and not at the bottom; lending to many but borrowing from none; and finally, defeating our enemies.
- Genesis 1:27 says we are created in the image of God, who is certainly a powerful conqueror, and not a grasshopper.
- Psalm 8: 5-8 says “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and beasts of the field, and birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”
- In Psalm 17:8, King David was so well acquainted with God he asked Him to “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide [protect] me in the shadow of your wings…” God is not a respecter of persons-He has no favorites. We are all His favorites—the apple of His eye.
- To His twelve disciples who followed Him so closely, Jesus said in John 15:15 “I no longer call you servants…Instead, I call you friends…” If you have Jesus as a friend, you cannot be a grasshopper.
- Romans 8: 28-39, written by Paul, is also rich in promises, and should be read in its entirety. In summary, it contains phrases such as “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v.31), and “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (v.37)
- Philippians 4:13- “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Again Paul writes from the viewpoint of one who in prominence was thought to be mighty in mans’ eyes. He was dramatically converted to a follower of Christ, and became mighty in God’s eyes. When he encountered the risen Jesus, he was converted from a spiritual grasshopper to a spiritual giant.
As we think about who we really are, deep down and over the long haul, we are terribly misled if we compare ourselves to others. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says “We do not dare to classify ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” Other translations say “they are fools.”
We should compare ourselves to Christ alone. Time spent with Him gives us insight into who we truly are. Acts 17:28 says “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” We are defined by our Creator, and time spent with Him makes us more like Him. It gives us confidence and valuable insight into who we are and what we are capable of doing. It makes us comfortable with living in our own skin, and disperses any thought of grasshopper-like limitations.