OceanSide church of Christ
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Views of Self
by: Dalton Gilreath
A poet by the name of John Donne once said, “No man is an island.” The apostle Paul would certainly agree as he told the Romans “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (14:7 KJV). No man has ever walked this earth without affecting those around him for good or for evil. The impact we have on those around us can become a lasting impression of “self” to others. However, this is not the only version of self. In fact, there are three different perspectives when it comes to the way an individual is viewed: the way a man views himself, the way others view him, and the way God views him.
The way a person looks at self is very important. Solomon noted on several occasions that a man can be deceived in his own self-evaluation. For example, some who are fools view themselves as being wise (Proverbs 3:7). Others might believe themselves to always be right and yet be destined to a devil’s hell (12:15, cf. 14:12). The only way to view oneself properly is to look into the mirror of God’s word, the New Testament (James 1:23-24). If he looks into the Law of Christ with an open heart, he can then see his true self. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with viewing oneself as being Heaven bound if the right standard is being used (1 John 2:3).
The way others view a man is equally as important. A Christian must always strive to keep a good reputation among his brethren and among the world. The reputation of each of us has with the world could be the difference between whether or not an individual converts to Christ (1 Pet 2:11-12, Matt 5:16). Men like Barnabas worked diligently to maintain a good reputation (Acts 4:36-37). This is why he was able to be counted on when it came to serving God. How could he have been so effective among his brethren and in evangelizing the Gospel if he was viewed in a negative light? Furthermore, elders are called to be of good report with those who are without (1 Tim 3:7), and all of us should be striving to reach the qualifications set forth for our elders, even if we don’t desire the office since most of those qualifications are simply the qualifications for an outstanding Christian. Keep in mind, however, that many will despise a good man whether he has done them wrong or not. Not even the Lord escaped harsh reviews from those around Him (Matthew 12:24). Still, Christians must strive to keep themselves pure in the eyes of as many as possible.
Finally, there is one whose view of man is always accurate. God the Father sees man not only by the exterior, but by the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Men can deceive themselves and even those around them, but God knows the truth. His view, of course, matters the most. Many live like the Pharisees putting on a show as they worship and serve God in public. However, God knows their intentions and one day He will reveal them publicly just as He did the Pharisee’s (Matthew 23:1-8). Children of God should always focus their efforts on being pure in heart before their Creator. Once their heart is pure they can truly view themselves, and be viewed by others, in a joyful light.