Proverbs 23:7 says in the NAS, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” This means our identity – or our view of ourselves – drives who we are and what we will become. It means: how we see ourselves is attached to a value system, which when let into our hearts, will drive our behavior, and will be a lens through which we view the world, including how we see ourselves, others and God.
So, how do you see ourselves? Do we see ourselves primarily as people of the causes we believe defines us, or do we see ourselves as people who according to Matt 22: 36-38 participate in the greatest commandment by loving the Lord your God with all our heart, soul and mind? In other words, are our identities wrapped up in God, or are they entangled with a cause? Here’s something to consider:
If you see yourself as a feminist, you read the Bible looking for information that supports what you believe to be are feminist views.
If you see yourself as a victim of a prior generation’s racism / slavery, you read the Bible looking for information that supports the views to which you think you are entitled as a victim or one who also somehow is guilty of a prior generation’s actions.
If you see yourself as a person of sustainability, you read the Bible looking for information that supports how you think the environment should be supported.
If you see yourself primarily as a Native American, you read the Bible looking for information that supports what you think a Native American should be.
How we view ourselves and the world indicates whether or not we actually are loving God more than anything. If we truly want to be a disciple of Christ, we must submit even our seemingly good causes to God and His word. This is because our causes can entrap us and entangle our identity, so we see ourselves in ways that actually are counter to what the Bible says.
If we see ourselves as victims of societal male dominance or racism or a past generation’s sins, we probably are holding on to unforgiveness, which is very dangerous for the human psyche and our relationship with God.
In Matthew 6: 5-15, Jesus teaches us to pray, and in verses 12 & 13 12He says, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Jesus explains these two lines of prayer in verses 14-15 14,”For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
What is the paradigm through which we interpret scripture? Is it trapping us in unforgiveness, or liberating us to serve God, whom we say we love most?