By: Beth Doohan
“What you think about God shapes your whole relationship with Him. In addition, what you believe God thinks about you determines how close you will grow toward Him.” (Chip Ingram)
“Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:8
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Have you had a conversation with an unbeliever about what they think of God and Christianity? Or discussed biblical truth with a Christian who is doing what she thinks is right, but is not walking in wholehearted obedience to God? Can you think of a woman in your life who shies away from compliments and often struggles with her self-image? I can think of several individuals for each of these categories, and the root of the problem is always the same: these individuals have rejected or pulled away from a wholehearted relationship with God because of a misunderstanding of His character and how He sees them.
I believe that it grieves God’s heart when people are deceived about His character and thereby their own self-worth. He designed us for relationship with Him, and when we misunderstand His character, it shapes how we view ourselves and how He sees us. In The Real God, pastor and teacher Chip Ingram writes, “What you think about God shapes your whole relationship with Him. In addition, what you believe God thinks about you determines how close you will grow toward Him. Many of us have formed a picture of God from impressions we’ve picked up throughout our life. Consciously, or unconsciously, our families, teachers, friends, and churches have impacted our picture of God. Our culture consistently sends us messages about how to see God as well. All of us have been affected and can carry a distorted image of God.”
While a misunderstanding of God negatively affects us and our relationship with Him, an accurate understanding breeds relationship and life in Him and shapes how we see ourselves in Christ. I can only imagine God’s heart of compassion when He sees someone believe a lie about their worth and His character. He wants us to know Him and have an accurate view of who He is and how He sees us.
Let’s explore some common misperceptions about God and His view of us:
- I am unworthy of His love because of sin. (Not accepting God’s forgiveness and redemption of your soul through Jesus Christ)
- I am too much for God to handle. (Insecurity in how He made you and false humility that God cannot use you)
- God did not give me what I wanted when I asked Him to; now I don’t trust Him. (Not seeing that God has a better plan than the one you designed)
- I don’t need to spend time with Him because He will forgive me no matter what. (Casual view of God and His righteous character; not seeing that He judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart as much as our actions)
- God has allowed pain in my life and is therefore unloving. (Not seeing God’s hand in your life in the midst of suffering, and not seeing Him as neither limited by this broken world nor the cause of everything that occurs)
- If He is like a father, then how can I trust Him? (Hurting from an earthly relationship that has skewed the picture of loving fatherhood)
- With so much pain in this life, is He really a good, loving God? (Hurt and confused by the pain you witness and experience, but not understanding God’s divine authority and the limitations of this fallen world)
- He doesn’t need me in order to accomplish His plans. (Not seeing that God created you and delights in how He made you with a divine purpose unlike anyone else)
- I am not enough to be used by Him. (Insecurity about God’s love and gifts in you)
- I would trust God, if only He would ______. (Conditional love of God, not one of complete surrender)
At times, we can all fall into one or more of these misperceptions. Life is dynamic, not static, and we will either grow closer to God or drift apart from Him based on our daily meditations and decisions. For example, a woman who believes she is too much for God to handle may love Him, but inevitably withholds part of her heart that He delights in and wants to minister to. A woman who clings to rejection or disappointment in life may love Him, but unconsciously refuses to let Him heal her heart and bring wholeness in areas of hurt. A woman who believes she is unimportant in God’s Kingdom may love Him, but ultimately becomes self-absorbed instead of servant-hearted by rejecting the gifts God has given her and refusing to share them with others.
So just how can we have an accurate view of God and ourselves? By drawing near to Him so that He can lovingly reveal Himself and His love to us. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” When we come to God with open hearts seeking His wisdom, He is faithful to respond and reveal His truth to us. Romans 5:5 tells us that, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
How about you? How do you view yourself in light of God’s character? Do you see yourself as a daughter of the King, beloved, created and known by our loving heavenly Father who delights in you and who you are? Or do you see yourself as unworthy, a mess, always making the same mistakes and judged by a condemning God who feels distant? Are you put together on the outside while inwardly crying out for a deeper relationship and purpose? Are you fearful to open your heart to God for lack of trust in His goodness? How you see yourself and God’s character is a window into the recesses of your heart and indicates how deep your relationship with God is.
Who He Is: Three in One
Let’s examine some of God’s characteristics to help us understand Him better. As we do, pray that His truth would be “shed abroad” in your heart and counteract misperceptions you have held onto. First, He is God the Father. Psalm 103:13 says, “The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.” Sometimes earthly fathers can disappoint or even wound us deeply, but not our heavenly Father. He is loving, delights in His children, and longs for a close relationship with us.
God the Father is also our Creator and is omniscient or all-knowing. Revelation 4:8 and 11 says, “’Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come… You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For You created all things, and they exist because You created what you pleased.’” The Psalmist wrote, “From His throne He observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so He understands everything they do” (Psalm 33:14-15). God delights in His children, knows our hearts and loves us. We can never be “too much” or “too little” for Him. He made us just as we are with a unique calling, gifts, and talents to minister as we follow Him.
Next, He is God the Son, Jesus Christ. In His loving-kindness, the Father sent His Son to atone for our sins. Jesus is the perfect, sinless sacrifice and redeemer. In humility He submitted to the Father’s wishes, and is now our Advocate before the Father. I John 2:1b-2 says, “But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”
Jesus also gives us a picture of the Father’s character—one of compassion, love, righteous anger and relationship. Jesus told his disciples in John 14:9-10 that, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!… The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does His work through me.” We are not righteous in our own strength or by outward works. It is because of Jesus and His sacrifice that we can believe in Him and be cleansed of wrongdoing in the Father’s eyes. And just as Jesus demonstrated through His life, God searches the desires and motivations of our hearts, not just what we do in the open. He longs for relationships with His children—to have our whole hearts. In Psalm 51:10 and 16-17, David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me… You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Since God yearns for our whole hearts, we must remain close to Him, learn what pleases Him and become like Him.
Finally, He is God the Spirit. The Holy Spirit serves as our Counselor, reminding us of God’s truth in His Word and convicting us of sin. Jesus told His disciples in John 16:7-8, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Counselor won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” As children of God, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. His still small voice convicts and renews us through the Word of God. Romans 8:9 and 14 says, “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)… For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”
The Holy Spirit also acts as our Advocate, reminding us of our position and authority in Christ as children of God, giving us peace, and advising us with godly wisdom. In John 14:26-27, Jesus said, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Because of the Holy Spirit, we can seek God’s wisdom and have peace in our decisions and in midst of difficult circumstances in the world around us. We can draw near to God, and He will come and respond to us by His Spirit ministering to our hearts.
A Right View of God and Self
I know we cannot address every misperception about God and how it affects our self-worth, but this at least gives a starting point. I, too, have struggled in different seasons with having a right view of God and self, and have had to come to Him for healing and understanding. As we consider these passages of Scripture, I pray it brings reflection and a crying out for wisdom so that He can minister His truth to our hearts. God wants us to know Him, love Him and trust Him. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Nothing compares to knowing our heavenly Father intimately. He is waiting for us to draw near to Him and longs to gently correct, renew, heal and restore our hearts.
Remember that a right relationship with the Lord produces joy no earthly happiness can bring, freedom from sin and bondage, healing from pain and loss, and a deep sense of purpose and love from intimacy with our Lord. In Philippians 3:8-10, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.” Come to Him today, asking God for wisdom as He helps you have a right view of Him and of yourself through knowing Him!
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- What misperceptions about God’s character have taken root in your heart? How has this impacted your relationship with Him? Repent of allowing these misbeliefs in your heart and prayerfully ask God to give you a right view of Himself through His Word.
- What misperceptions do you have about your self-worth and the way God views you? Psalm 139:1, 13-14 and 17 says, “O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me… You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it… How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” Ask God to renew your heart and mind about how He sees you and write a confession about it (e.g. I am the Great King’s daughter, beloved, uniquely made and wholly righteous in Christ).
- Read II Peter 1:3-4 and Ephesians 1:16-18. What do these passages of Scripture tell us about God’s character and how He sees us? Make it your prayer that you would know Him more and spend time renewing your mind about His character during your devotions in His Word.