Self-image; January 27, 2018

Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker,
to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘He has no hands’?”

As a pastor I am constantly dealing with people who are unhappy with how God created them. Almost always, what they are most unhappy with is what they have done with what God gave them to start with, but they tend to blame it on God anyway. This verse, along with the two that follow, deal with that issue pretty definitively! I really like a sweatshirt I once saw a picture of that said, “I must really be something, because God don’t make no junk.” I prefer good grammar, but the thought is excellent! Unfortunately, in this age of “participation trophies” and the like, many people have artificially inflated opinions of themselves, but when that bubble is popped, they have no foundation to fall back on. Japanese society has long focused on squashing bragging, to the point that parents seldom praise their children for anything, and certainly not in public. That can be very damaging indeed, and I often have to deal with the wreckage that results. I really feel that’s a major cause of the high suicide rate in Japan, because people get to the point of seeing no value to their own continued existence. Many Japanese Christians love the first part of Isaiah 43:4, that says, “you are precious and honored in my sight,” precisely because it counters that sort of mindset. Paul tells us to “not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3) He then goes on to point out that God has gifted each one of us as His children, and we are responsible for how we use those gifts. We are indeed “cracked pots,” but God has placed His treasure in us and we are to live accordingly. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

In myself, I have had to deal more with conceit than the opposite, but I deal constantly with people who can’t see what they have to contribute to society. Part of that comes from their focusing on seeking what others can contribute to them, but that is a trap that is common to all mankind. I have discovered the truth of what Paul credits to Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) I am often called on to counsel people who are so self-centered that they can’t understand God placed them here to be channels of blessing to others, and as a result they are miserable. I am to speak the truth in love always, and be careful not to fall into that trap myself. I am to speak God’s love and encouragement to people, and not just speak but demonstrate it with my actions, so that the lies of the devil may be exposed and destroyed and they be set free to be all that God created them to be, for His glory.

Father, thank You for the opportunities You’ve given me in this area just recently. Help me be consistent in expressing Your character to those around me, so that they may be drawn to repentance and faith for their salvation, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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