Since 2013, the term “selfie” has been recognized as a word by the Oxford Dictionary because of how many images we take of ourselves. In 2013, it was estimated that over 1 million selfies were taken per day, and a 2015 article reports that women between the ages of 16 – 25 spend an average of five hours per week taking selfies, selecting the perfect image, and touching it up to post on social media.
Beyond the selfie craze — Social media is full of OUR personal goals and accomplishments… And we obsessively check our Facebook / Instagram / Twitter pages to see how many likes and comments we get!
Then, let’s talk about the billion dollar self-help book industry. ABC reported that if you want to get rich quick — write a self-help book. That report was done in 2003, and while that may seem old data 13 years later, in 2015, the self-help book market grew an estimated 15% and is classified, along with graphic novels, among the fastest growing print book categories. So I can’t help but feel that advice may still be valid / accurate.
I looked all this up to prove the point we already know — our world today is very me-oriented. The world encourages us to be “self-aware” and to “find ourselves” and “discover our inner potential.” But what does God say on the matter?
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts. ~Proverbs 21:2
For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. ~Galatians 6:3
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. ~2 Corinthians 13:5
A lot actually. The verses above are just a sampling. Let’s take a closer look at these three… because to me, they sum up our whole Self-Awareness vs. Self-Awareness debacle.
Proverbs 21:2 says that “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes.” In other words, we don’t see ourselves as evil creatures. Of course, we are born with a conscience that society helps to form… our societal cultures and norms dictating what is right vs what is wrong (NOTE: A conscious is not the same thing as being moved by the Holy Spirit… we discussed this in the post “The Illusion of Control.”)
So our actions may not seem so bad when we measure them against the world’s standard… We may look around and think, “I’m a pretty good person.” However our society endorses a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean they are right.
The rest of the verse tells us “the Lord weighs the heart.” You can’t hide anything from God. You may go through life, following the rules of society and think you’re doing okay, but God is measuring you against a different standard.
It’s estimated that this verse in Proverbs was written somewhere between the tenth and sixth centuries BC, which to me, further demonstrates the timelessness of the Bible. Certainly, societal norms have changed in a few thousand years, yet the wisdom in this verse is as valid today as it was when it was written.
Okay — so we know that our human nature says “we’re okay,” but God is measuring our hearts against a different standard of measure. Let’s move on to the second verse in my list of examples.
Galatians 6:3 says “if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” That seems kind of harsh when you read it by itself, doesn’t it?? This translation is the New King James Version. Let’s see how The Message translates this verse… “If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” Ouch. But let’s look at the verses before this one (we’re going to stay with The Message translation for this exercise):
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
So that verse is basically saying — we’re all sinners. Every one of us is going to fall and none of us have the right to judge another. I am so guilty of this. I think we all are. It’s in that human nature of ours to assume “we’re okay people, trying to live good lives, and sure, we make mistakes, but at least we aren’t doing anything as bad as that guy!” This verse is saying, “Who are you to judge?” And it specifically says — it’s YOU who may need forgiveness for something you do before the day is out.
If we think we can judge others by our own definition of moral values, we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and remember — our Perfect God is also going to measure US against a standard that we will fall hopelessly short of measuring up to… We learn that in Romans 3:23:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Let’s move on.
2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves. We are to look at our lives and test ourselves. Are we living faithfully according to God’s standards? I like The Message translation for this verse too:
Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you.
In other words, it’s not enough to simply call ourselves Christians. We have to live Christ-like lives that reflect His goodness and His glory!
When we make the effort to live against God’s standard of measure (referenced in Proverbs 21), and we recognize that we’re sinners, and yet we make the effort to live according to God’s will and God’s plan — then THAT is the self-awareness we should be shooting for.
The world’s definition of self-awareness will fail you. God knows you better than you know yourself. Romans 8:27 says:
Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Further examples of this truth:
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. ~Psalm 139:1
Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know Your servant. ~2 Samuel 7:20
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. ~Luke 12:7a
Do YOU know the number of hairs on your own head? He does. So don’t think for a moment He’s not more aware of who you really are than you are! All the self-help books in the world aren’t going to help you discover yourself to the same level at which God knows you! After all — He is your Creator! The Creator certainly knows His creation better than anyone!
As you’re going about your daily life, remember this truth — God loves you. He loves you enough to send His Son to die for you. You don’t need to worry about the world’s definition of right from wrong, or the world’s perception of your value. That’s not the measurement of who you are.
God’s love for you is so great that the only opinion that matters is His. He’s the one we should be living for and the one our self-awareness should be focused on… when we are self-aware of where we stand with God… self-aware of things we should do to bring Him honor, glory, and even joy… self-aware of our failings and self-awareness to repent of our mistakes… THAT is the measure of TRUE self-awareness.
Dear Jesus, help me today that no matter where I go, what I do, who I meet — whatever opportunities are ahead — my mind will be centered on You. Not me. Remind me of the prayer You Yourself prayed — “not My will, but Yours, be done.” I don’t want to live according to the world’s standards, but I want to live according to Yours. I ask You to whisper to my heart the words of encouragement I need to hear… to boldly live my faith and worry only about pleasing You. Other people’s opinions of me don’t matter; only pleasing You matters.