By Pastor Jasper Mutale
“FOR a long time, I didn’t have any self-esteem,” William began. “The only time I felt good was when I had shoes with the ‘right’ brand name and the newest cell phone. If I didn’t have them, I didn’t want to go out with my friends.”
Who would have thought that beneath William’s thought, cool image was an ego that could be crushed simply by cheap shoes or a generic sweatshirt?
Too bad some of his enemies didn’t know. Little did they realise that William was a modern day Samson – his strength was in his shoes. Steal his shoes and you conquer the man…
Of course, his shoes weren’t exactly the problem. The problem was William’s reputation. It was what other people thought about his shoes – and therefore, about him.
Call it what you like – reputation, peer pressure, people-pleasing, co-dependency – William’s life was controlled by other people. In that, he was no different from most anyone else. Zambia it is time to be saved! Church we ought to be purpose-driven unlike people-driven.
Then came a few changes: William came to know the Lord and came to understand that he didn’t have to measure up to the standards of others’ opinions, because God’s opinion of him was rooted in the finished work of Jesus.
In other words, even though he was a sinner, God loved him and made him righteous in His sight, so who cared what other people thought?! It went well for the next couple of years and he thought his treatment was working.
Then William got married. He shares some of his thoughts with us:
“Marriage has been a privilege and a blessing to me. It has also been the context of a surprising discovery.
I found that being okay in Christ was not quite enough for me. When I was first married, I knew that Jesus loved me, but I also wanted my new wife to be absolutely, forever smitten with me. I needed love from her.
I could finally handle small amounts of rejection from other people, but I felt paralysed if I didn’t have the love I needed from her. I needed unconditional love. If she didn’t think I was a great husband, I would be crushed (and, as you might guess, a little angry).”
“This led to a second awakening. I suddenly realised that I had mutated into a walking love tank, a person who was empty inside and looking for a person to fill me.
My bride was, indeed, gifted in being able to love, but no one could have possibly filled me. I think I was a love tank with a leak.”
“I tried the old biblical answers that had worked before my marriage, but they were of no use. They didn’t go far enough. In fact, they became almost irrelevant.
They reminded me of times when, after I’d been politely dumped by a girl, my parents would try to cheer me up with ‘We love you no matter what’.
Sure, it was nice that my parents loved me, and it would have been much worse if they did not love me, but I wanted somebody else to love me too.”
Since those days I have spoken with hundreds of people who end up at this same place: they are fairly sure that God loves them, but they also want or need love from other people – or at least they need something from other people.
As a result, they are in bondage, controlled by others and feeling empty. They are controlled by whomever or whatever they believe can give them what they think they need. It is true: what or who you need will control you.
The fear of man: “Fear” in the biblical sense is a much broader word. It includes being afraid of someone, but it extends to holding someone in awe, being controlled or mastered by people, worshiping other people, putting your trust in people, or needing people.
The fear of man: As used in Scripture, it includes men, women, and children. We are not limiting our focus Church to the male gender. We assume, as the Bible does, that every person in our lives has the potential to control us.
We fear people because they can expose and humiliate us Shame from sin: One reason we fear other people is that they can expose or humiliate us others may know about your secret mistakes and because of fearing from being exposed, then fear comes in.
Be thou saved Zambia from fear. Immediately after the sin of Adam and Eve, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised they were naked” (Gen 3:7).
This is the debut of the fear of other people. Shame -consciousness. Shame from being victimised or sinned gainst: Throughout human spiritual history, a second form of shame emerged. It was the result of being sinned against, victimised or dishonoured by others.
For example: Gen 34:5; Prov 19:26 and Ps.79. Victims feel embarrassed, humiliation, and disgrace because of the sins of others against them. They feel unclean, naked and without access to covering, and they fear people.
But, theologically there is a big difference between the two. Sin-shame is something we bring on ourselves; victimisation-shame is done to us. Everyone has the experience of sin-shame, but not everyone has this shame intensified by victimisation-shame.
Shame, and its feeling of disgrace before God and others, surfaces in our culture as low self-esteem, with its feelings of worthlessness. Shame and low self-esteem are both rooted in Adam’s sin. They both are governed by the perceived opinions of others, and they both involve “not feeling good about ourselves.”
We learn the fear of God by reading and meditating on the Word, and by praying that our God would teach us. Deut 4:10; 17:18-19; 31:13 and Ps 34:9, 11.
Learning the fear of the Lord the Creator: Look around and notice God’s glory reflected in creation. The clouds are reminders of His presence (Ex 19:9); they are his chariots as He oversees His creation (Ps 104:3).
The winds are His messengers (Ps 104:4). The sun comes forth like a bridegroom, reminding me that Jesus is returning for His church (Ps 19:5). The heavens truly praise His wonders (Ps 89:5); they declare His glory (Ps 19:1).
Jacob Learns the Fear of the Lord: Only the story of Jacob reveals God by the name “Fear.” (Gen 31:53). The first time Jacob met God, or the Fear of Isaac, as he called him, he was on the run from his brother Esau.
Having just cheated him out of his birthright, Jacob had reason to fear the man. Undoubtedly, at this time in Jacob’s life, man was big and God was small. Jacob’s dream changed all that (Gen 28:21).
The context of the next meeting with God was similar in that it included the threat of Esau, but it is different in that Jacob was going to meet Esau rather than run from him. The question was clear: Whom will you fear? Esau or the true God?
To help Jacob with this decision, God blessed him with a visitation even more intimate than the dream at Bethel. God actually appeared to Jacob as a man, wrestled with him, and then blessed him.
The Lessons of the Exodus: The exodus from Egypt and the law that was given from Sinai were some of the first large scale classes in the fear of the Lord.
During these events, God demonstrated that He alone was God. Nothing could compare to Him. The law is wonderful in that it reveals the holy character of God.
The Ten Commandments reveal that God’s ways are profoundly higher than the ways of the surrounding nations. It is a beautiful revelation of the God who protected the oppressed and poor, hated injustice, loved mercy, offered forgiveness and cleansing, and was morally pure.
In the law, God set a new standard for holiness that the world had not known. Lev 11:44; Lev 19:2; 20:7; Lev 20:26
The image of God in humans is more accurately that of Moses literally reflecting the glory of God (Ex .34:29-32), like the moon reflecting the light of the sun. Today, the way God’s people come into His presence is by faith. (2 Cor. 3:18) The most basic question of human existence becomes “How can I bring glory to God?”
The image-as bringing-glory-to-God is found in the way we live. In this sense, the image of God in man is a verb. It is not just-who we are; it is what we do church.
Ultimately, the awesome responsibility and glorious privilege of image-bearing is expressed in simple acts of obedience that have eternal implications.
There are many ways that God reveals Himself that are patterns for us to follow.
Here are some examples:
– You are a Priest: (1 Peter 2:9);
– You-are a Christian:
We have taken on Christ’s name. We are His betrothed. We are heralds and ambassadors for Christ who implore others to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20)
Other pictures of God’s people: For example, as God’s holiness is revealed in His fatherly love and discipline, our imitation can also be expressed in fathering.
A worker who does Modern work with the desire to serve Christ is imaging the Son who has worked on our behalf.
Here are just a few of the ways we imitate our God: As children (1 John 3:1); As slaves (Rom. 6:22); As friends (John 15:14); As fellow workers (Eph. 6:1); As brides (Rev. 21:3); As warriors (Eph. 6:10-18); As living stones (1 Peter 2:5); As evangelists, prophets, pastors, teachers (Eph. 4:11); As husbands (Isa. 54:5).
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