July 9, 2004
Encouragement for Today
I am. Not, I do.
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries, firstname.lastname@example.org
Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'what is His name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I am' has sent me to you. Exodus 3:13-14 (NIV)
We often define ourselves by what we do - in other words, I am what I accomplish. (I'm a writer, accountant, or teacher.)
The frustrating thing about accomplishments is that they never stay accomplished for long.
I was once the outstanding English student at my junior college - I'm not
I used to work in public relations - I don't anymore.
I used to work with senior high kids at church - I don't anymore.
I even once had all the laundry done in my home, except for what my family was wearing. That accomplishment lasted a few hours until the kids ripped off their socks and used them for target practice across the family room.
I seriously considered having my family wear the same outfit every day for a week so I could feel a sense of satisfaction at being caught up on laundry for more than 12 hours. My three sons were on board (of course!) but my husband just raised an eyebrow.
The truth is that no accomplishment provides us with lasting meaning and purpose. And yet, many of us place our self-worth and identity in what we do. The danger of this personal definition is that when our accomplishments pass away (and they will) we are in danger of losing sight of who we really are.
In Exodus chapter three, Moses had just encountered God in the burning bush and was receiving his marching orders to bring the Israelites out of slavery. Moses questioned God's judgment (not his wisest move) and says to God:
"... Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? And God said, 'I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.'
Moses said to God, 'Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'what is His name?' Then what shall I tell them?' God said to Moses, 'I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I am' has sent me to you.'"
Did you notice that the name God chose to define Himself didn't have anything to do with His accomplishments? God had accomplished some amazing things, and He could have said something like this:
Tell them that the Almighty Creator, the All-Powerful God who created the universe, spoke the land and the sea into existence, created man from dust and woman from a rib has sent you.
Instead, God chose to define Himself thusly: I am.
We should learn from God and choose to also define ourselves by who we are, not what we do. And you are a dearly beloved child of God; valued because of Who loves you and chose you to be His.
Remember that truth when you doubt your worth because you can't keep up with the laundry, you loose a job or you find the 10 pounds you lost last year.
My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me in spite of what I do or don't do. I praise you that you are the great "I am." Please help me to grasp your deep love for me, and allow the truth of who I am to transform my life. In Jesus name, Amen.
Identify a responsibility or past accomplishment that gives you great satisfaction and impacts your feelings of self-worth. Consider what would happen if you lost your ability to accomplish that task. Read Scripture that affirms your worth as a child of God.
What types of responsibilities give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Have you ever derived self-worth from an accomplishment or a responsibility and then lost the ability to continue that responsibility: Perhaps from a move, having children or losing your health? What emotions did you feel?
Why do you think God chose to call Himself "I am"?
What does it mean for you to define your identify by who you are instead of what you do?
How can our reading of Scripture and our relationship with God help our understanding of who we are?
Psalm 25:10 "All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His decrees." (NRS)
Colossians 3:12 "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." (NRS)
2 Corinthians 17-18 So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good," says God. "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself. I'll be a Father to you; you'll be sons and daughters to me." (The Message)
Romans 3: 28 "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." (NAS)
Romans 4: 2-3 "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'" (NAS)
P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
The Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes
A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst
Originally published Friday, 09 July 2004.