You have to live with yourself. But what about the rest of the world? Your behavior toward others is just as important to building your own self-respect. Interacting with people often reveals unexpected, self-centered behavior.
There are a few basic principles that can help us to get past our self-centeredness.
First, we need to be committed to following Biblical principles as our guide for living. Second, we need to consciously act on our commitment. Here are two verses that give us some guidance:
Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:21). The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way (Proverbs 8:13).
If you put these verses together, they simply mean that those who “fear Christ” are not two cringing, fearful people, but rather two individuals who want to clear away any evil, pride, or arrogance that is revealed between them and figure out a mutually agreeable way to get along.
Knowing that our hearts are deceitful, and knowing that God will search our hearts and test our minds, it is only logical to continuously submit our choices to the test. But how? The psalmist gives a clue:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24).
James says it also:
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was (James 1:22-24).
You can know your heart, if you allow the Lord to show you yourself reflected in His Word. On the basis of what you see, you can act on His instructions:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7).
The apostle John points the way to a carefree life:
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, in whatever our heart condemns us: for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:18-22).
The Bible gives some guidelines for making choices:
1. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
“And just as you want men to treat you, treat them in the same way” (Luke 6:31).
2. Be a leader.
The apostle Paul says:
“The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in Me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
3. Thankfully make choices as though the Lord were beside you.
The apostle Paul says:
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).
4. Carry out your choices heartily, and desire to please God.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:23-24).
All of us have no choice about many of the duties we must perform. Everyone can ask God for a hearty spirit toward the task if he wants to. How wonderful to enjoy what you are doing–to do it heartily–to do it as an act of worship!
Everyone, every day, faces a multitude of choices. Your sense of self-respect, of loving yourself, depends upon making those choices within the framework of commandments you choose to follow.
Finally, consider these words:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
This is an excerpt of chapter 5 from Dr. Brandt’s book, I Want Happiness Now!
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