Our society says it all the time, “be yourself.” But what does that really mean? The way the world describes the phrase “be yourself” is incredibly different from the way the Bible defines this phrase.
To those who are of the world, “be yourself” means speak your mind, don’t hold anything back, love yourself more than anyone else, and openly reject anyone you just don’t like. The advice to “be yourself” can quickly turn into an excuse to be unfriendly and overly blunt.
As believers, however, just as with everything else, we can choose to define this phrase another way. I believe it is best summed up with the word “authenticity.”
It Begins with Identity
Throughout the month of January, our conversations have focused on identity. We’ve shared our stories and the idea of acceptance through the lens of our biblical identity. We’ve learned that we have the unconditional love of Christ Jesus, and irrefutable acceptance because of what He did for us on the cross. We’ve realized that because our identity is secure in Him, we don’t have to strive for acceptance from other people, or fear what they think and say about us.
It’s crucial to come from this foundation in the pursuit of authenticity. Without understanding our biblical identity, who we really and truly are as our deepest selves, we will never be able to live authentically. We’ll always be putting on masks in an attempt to become who we think others want us to be or should be.
But when we are firmly rooted in who God says we are, when we understand the truth of our identity in Christ, we are emboldened to live with authenticity. We have the confidence to show up without a mask or façade. We show up as who we truly are, with no false pretenses, holding nothing back.
How Is That Different from the Way of the World?
Some of you may be thinking at this point that authenticity sounds similar to how the world defines “being yourself.” But there’s a fine line here, so let’s clarify a few things.
As we’ve already established, being yourself according to the way of the world means holding nothing back. According to society, it doesn’t matter if you hurt someone as long as you are being your true self.
On the other hand, when we are living out our biblical identity, our behavior will reflect Christ—not the world. Why? Because we will know and believe that we are a new creation made in His image. The old us is gone. We are no longer sinners but saints having a closeness to God. We aren’t perfect; we will make mistakes and choices that aren’t always the best. But our identity is founded in Christ, and this acceptance allows us the grace to move forward.
And, when we are that self, when we live authentically with that identity, our lives will be marked by love. Our desire will be to place others first and serve others as Christ served. We will hold a desire to glorify God in everything we do. There will be no place for spitefulness and selfishness because that’s just not who we are. That’s not who Christ made us to be.
How Do You Live Authentically?
We’ve shared many times this month the importance of studying God’s truth every day. Not only reading His word but embracing His truth and allowing it to penetrate your heart so that you will begin to live out this truth daily—no second-guessing, no hesitation. This confidence in who you are and whose you are will produce a boldness that will empower you to live a life marked by authenticity. I call it God-confidence, and it will genuinely make a difference in your life!
From there, all it takes is a daily practice of studying and praying His Word. Join a Bible study, online Bible group, or journal your Bible reading. Whatever you do, stay in His word. This practice will allow you to keep the mask off instead of picking it back up every time you feel uncomfortable or pressured to impress.
What Matters Most
It’s in these moments we must remind ourselves what God said to the prophet Samuel years and years ago. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
Sure, people may look at you and make a snap judgment. They might notice some surface aspects of you that they don’t like or something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, this is the way of our world; it’s hard and unavoidable. But the truth is, none of it matters. What matters is what God sees. What matters is what God thinks. And God looks at the heart, where Jesus lives and reigns, covering you with His blameless identity.
This Week’s Challenge!
This week, I encourage you to embrace your identity. Begin with the daily practice of reading and reflecting on God’s Word. Discover your biblical identity and repeat it to yourself over and over, as many times as it takes to believe and receive who God made you to be. And then, as you approach situations where you’re tempted to put on the mask or present yourself as someone you’re not, recall God’s words and preach it to your heart!
16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
Be real, be honest, and be authentic. Be YOU!