The story is told of a missionary working with a tribe deep in the jungle who hung a mirror on a tree so the people could see themselves fully and clearly for the first time. The first native to use the mirror was a woman who ripped the mirror off the tree, slammed it to the ground, and destroyed it when she saw what she really looked like.
If some of us saw what we really look like, it wouldn’t be a pleasant picture because the reality is that many of us are dissatisfied with things about ourselves. We’re not happy with our physical appearance, our status in life, the stage of life we’re in, or how things are working out for us. So instead of just breaking the mirror, we try to camouflage our reality.
The world has done a good job of helping us with that camouflage. We can buy products to make us look better. We can even hire a company to enhance our image, our “brand,” the public perception of who we are. We do this because we are afraid that if we were fully exposed as who we really are, it would not be a pretty picture. So we learn to pretend.
Living Lives of Pretense
In fact, one of the greatest places to pretend is in church. If we say “Halleluiah” and “Praise the Lord” enough, sing loud enough, and raise our hands high enough, we might give the impression that we’re on good terms with God, when the reality may be far different. The mirror of our lives may reveal that there is a big gap between what we display on Sunday and what’s really happening in our lives. But we don’t want others to see the reality, so we play the religious game at church and let the world outside define our identity for us.
Doing that always leads to dissatisfaction, however, because we can never be as pretty or rich or strong or fast as the celebrities and athletes we see in the media. But we want to try, which is why so many men wear sports jerseys with other folks’ names and numbers on them. They don’t have their own identity, so they piggyback on the identity of another person. And the best-selling jerseys seldom belong to the placekicker, the backup shortstop, or the second-string basketball player. They are the jerseys of the quarterbacks, the home run hitters, or the guy who can dunk the ball—the stars, in other words, because that’s who we want to be.
Let me explain why it is futile to look for yourself without looking to God first. If you don’t know who you are or what you’re looking for, how will you know when you have found yourself? You may have simply found the façade that you think is the real you.
Lose Yourself to Find Yourself
But there is an answer this dilemma. The Bible says that the way to find yourself is to lose yourself for the sake of Christ and the gospel. That’s what Jesus said in Mark 8:34-35. Paul conveyed the same idea in Romans 12:3, which is where we are starting this fourth chapter of our study on The Big Give. Romans 12:3 says: “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Jesus explained this concept in another way when He said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).
So the way to find yourself is to lose yourself; then you’ll discover the real you. Now I know that may not make sense to you, because it is definitely not the way Madison Avenue will tell you how to find the real you and be somebody. The world’s message is “Buy this, wear this, hang out with these people, drive this, live here, and you will be somebody.” But God says, “Lose yourself in Me, and I will locate you for you.”