Tammy and I took some time off to rest and recharge recently and we missed you! No one was more excited than we were to be in church on Sunday! It was especially fun to start a new series called GROW. The theme verse is 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” It’s my prayer that through this series you will move from a goal mindset to a grow mindset. There is nothing wrong with setting goals but if you are not careful you set ten different goals about ten different things. It is overwhelming, compartmentalized, and disconnected. I want to suggest a simple approach, a single idea for every area of your life. Are you growing in grace? Are you growing in knowledge? Are you growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ?
People identify themselves in a variety of ways. We’ve all heard people say, “I’m a ___.” Fill in the blank with runner, Democrat, Republican, night owl, introvert, overcomer, etc. The world wants to put a label on you, but you are not your accomplishments, feelings, desires, or attractions. Your identity is in the God who made you and not in what others say about you or even what you say or feel about yourself. Before you can grow and be all God wants you to be, you must know who you are and who God created you to be.
A Special Identity
Genesis 1:27 tells us “God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.” Male and female both reflect the image of God. God created everything and said, “It is good.” Psalm 139:13 shows that you are no accident. You were fearfully and wonderfully made, intricately knitted together in your mother’s womb. Ephesians 2:10 says you are God’s handiwork. The word means God’s masterpiece made in the image of God to reflect His image. God planned works for you to do that are unique from everyone else’s. Identity is important. If you don’t believe that just lose your driver’s license or passport! God made you with a special identity and there is no one like you.
A Stolen Identity
You also have a stolen identity. The beauty of our God-given identity has been distorted by sin. Adam and Eve believed the devil’s lie and rebelled against God. God’s good world became a place of brokenness and depravity. No one has to teach us to be selfish. Why do we argue and think more highly of ourselves, our opinions than we ought? Why do we think the world revolves around us? Why do we point out the sins of others but not our own? 2 Peter 1:3-4 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Notice he says “knowledge” and then that we can live a godly life because of His glory and goodness. That is grace! We are all broken. There is none good no not one (Rom. 3:10). Only Jesus is good. Only Jesus lived a perfect life. He offers us a new identity by His grace. You need more than knowledge. The Bible says knowledge alone puffs up (1 Cor. 8:1). The goal is not information but transformation. The goal of the Christian life is to be like Christ. Jesus was full of grace and truth. “Grow in the grace and knowledge….”
A Saved Identity
Your identity was lost but it can be found! Only the one who gave you life has the right to name you. God changed Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, and He can change you. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” You will never find your identity horizontally. We get our identity vertically. I am not something because of what I do. I am something because I am in Christ. Our identity is not in our past sin or present struggles. It is in Christ. We are children of God. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God…” (1 John 3:1-2). You are loved. God is not ashamed of you. You were adopted. He wanted you. You are forgiven and Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” Let that sink in.
Growth is caused internally not externally. How do kids grow? By what they eat. You need nourishment. Make every effort to spend time in the word and to allow God to replace your stolen identity with who He created you to be. In Christ our worthlessness, meaninglessness, and hopelessness are all gone!
Reactivity by Paul David Tripp
Leading with Emotional Courage by Peter Bregman
Truth for Life 2 Peter