I’m doing a Louie Giglio reading plan on YouVersion called “Relate-able”. In yesterday morning’s devotion he wrote about how we need to see ourselves as God sees us – in a loving and positive way – if we ever want to be able to treat others in a loving and positive way. He writes:
Loving yourself is thus critical, because if you don’t believe that God loves you, you will have an impossible time of trying to convince others that God loves them.
Subsequently when I did my devotions yesterday evening and read Matthew 7, verse 6 stood out for me:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.” (NRSV)
If we could dissect our psyches and label all the parts, I wonder how many of those parts – of our habits, behaviours, hopes, fears and anger – would have other people’s names attached to them? It’s hard to look at yourself in the mirror when in addition to your own inner monologue there is writ large the commentary of a thousand passing moments on the glass. Some are positive; but honestly, the negative words we are dealt over a lifetime tend to be written down just a little darker and bigger than all the rest of it, right? It can be hard to see yourself as God sees you – as a beloved and cherished child – through all of that scrawl.
Recently I found myself stuck in one of those nonsensical mental loops that serve no other purpose than to frustrate, depress and annoy. Testily I wondered Why? The day hadn’t started out bad and I couldn’t say that I was in a bad space generally. When I traced the genesis of this thought loop I found it rooted in comparison: I had been (unfavourably) comparing myself to someone I didn’t even know (partially because I suspected someone else had run this same comparison and found me wanting – good old fashioned projection!)
Could it be that we take this truth of ourselves – the “pearls” of our holiness, our “wholeness” in Christ – and throw them in front of the ever-devouring mouths of comparison and reputation? Only to have our perception, our sense and knowledge of our worth in Christ mercilessly chomped up by corrupt worldly standards?
Would you take precious jewels and throw them out for hogs to eat, along with the rest of their slop? Picture doing that. Ridiculous, right? Yet we seem to line up quite happily to throw far more precious things to the mouths of opinionistas and Facebook feeds, to passing comments and fads, to unwarranted censure from folks just as insecure as we are or perhaps even more so. We seem quite content to throw our pearls of redemption and belonging to the rabid dog that is our own inundated ego run rampant on the carcass of sin.
Friends, aren’t we being incredibly silly?
I don’t think we always realise that we get to make a decision about the way we see ourselves and think about ourselves; we get to confront negative behaviour and change it. We can choose what we do with our “pearls”: we can throw them for swine and dogs to devour, or we can lay them at Jesus’ feet. Dogs and swine are never satisfied or appreciative with our “pearls”, they always devour us in turn. But at Jesus’ feet, those pearls are picked up and bestowed on us again a hundredfold. Such is the nature of grace. Such is the nature of holiness – being whole – in our Creator.