Ann found out some things about herself too. She had had her own way most of the time, thanks to her ingenuity and power of persuasion. It was true that her standards were fine ones. But Ann was also a very determined woman. This trait showed itself when she insisted on a neat room in college, even if she had to do her roommate’s share of the work. It was apparent in the way she kept after Jack to hang up his coat and put away his shoes. Perhaps instead of “determined,” “stubborn” is a better word.
If Ann failed to win people over by logic, she broke into tears or lapsed into silence till her opponent gave in. Perhaps “sulk” is the proper word. Ann just couldn’t or wouldn’t back down.
Ann came to see this herself. What was she to do with this discovery? Now knowing her strengths and weaknesses, was she to manipulate them to further serve her own selfish ends? Or should she admit her stubborn nature with a view to changing?
If she chose to defend her emotional ups and downs, she had the Bible as the standard by which to determine whether her defense was valid. If, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she found she did not measure up to that standard, she had the grace of God available to change her.
Self-discovery is painful because it uncovers streaks in your makeup that you wish were not there–-but which cannot be wished away. It confirms what John wrote almost 2,000 years ago: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8).
The objective is not morbid introspection, but an inward look for the purpose of moving on to higher ground. What causes me to be the way I am? I want to know because I don’t want to live like this any longer. Other people have come to this conclusion about me a long time ago; it is about time I catch up with them.
Marriage, parenthood, a social situation, or your job may be the means to discovering your true self. But do not look for the root of your problem in your marriage partner or children or uncooperative neighbor; rather look for it in yourself. That which reveals a problem is not the problem itself. To treat the symptom is not to cure the disease.
A Helping Hand from Heaven
For a life of peace, you must first discover your true self. Then to know what you have found, you must measure it by God’s standard. You will find yourself short–everyone does. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). This is the reason you need the help which only Jesus Christ can give you. He alone can make you what you ought to be.
For Jack and Ann to change, they had to acknowledge their faults to themselves and each other, set aside their excuses, turn Godward, and truly seek forgiveness, cleansing, and spiritual strength on a daily basis. For Jack, he needed to admit that he only pretended agreement, deceived people, and hid an angry spirit. For Ann, she needed to admit her selfishness, stubbornness, and resentment. Because Jesus atoned for the sins of man at the Cross, God will forgive, cleanse, and give them new spirits.
Jack and Ann also had to move from verbal agreements to mental assent. As the Bible declares: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).
Questions for review:
- Can you relate to the story of Jack and Ann? Is there anyone in your life (spouse, child, boss, co-worker, friend, relative) who irritates you, even if you think that the irritations are trivial? How have these irritations played out in your relationship?
- How does the author define maturity in this chapter? What is personal growth and development based on?
- List some ways in which you can “discover yourself.” Take some time this week to implement these methods of discovery and note what you find out about yourself. Use the questions listed in the lesson as a place to start.
- Spend some time comparing what you discover about yourself with the standard of scripture. Are there areas in which your life resembles the picture that the Bible paints of someone who draws their strength from the Lord? What are those areas? In what areas do you see yourself falling short?
- And now, it’s time to make a decision. What will you do with this information you’ve discovered about yourself? Will you deny or ignore it? Or will you admit your shortcomings with the intent of allowing the available grace of God to change you?
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