If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8 (NASB)
“I am afraid to fail.” “I am not good enough.” “I will never measure up.” “I cannot hit the mark”. “I am a nobody.” Are these expressions that you have heard in your mind? For me, these are words I told myself over and over when my inabilities, deficiencies and lack of “pedigree” surfaced. My response was to try harder; to achieve recognition through accomplishment. My internal dialog was “If the world doesn’t give me the acknowledgment, I can acquire it through performance”. I felt this even more keenly because I had once been referred to as a “nobody”, because of my impoverished background. I resolved strongly to disprove anyone (including myself) who ever ascribed me to irrelevance and obscurity.
I recall a conversation that my wife and I had about this some time ago. I had just finished talking about all the places in my life that were “in need of improvement”. I talked about my frustration with not being “good enough”. Her response was quiet and assuring. “Honey, you aren’t good enough.” Her loving tone caused me to think.
Sin is a corruption of all that God created perfectly. We are like bent and distorted arrows in the archer’s quiver that always miss the target. No matter how much we try, we cannot straighten ourselves. Henri Nouwen, the Christian psychologist, observed that we live in a world that is shouting “You are no good; you are ugly; you are worthless; you are despicable; you are nobody – unless you can demonstrate the opposite.” The reminders are pervasive.
Jesus, however, is the straight and sure arrow that hits the target of righteousness every time. Instead of trying harder then, my response to self-deprecation and the negative voices of the world should be “Yes, I AM not good enough, but you know what? I don’t have to be. Christ’s righteousness is enough. Praise the Lord for His grace.”
I am not saying that we must accept our own or other people’s labels about their assessment of our capabilities and competence. By no means! I am also not saying that it is ok to self-deprecate whenever we mess up, make mistakes, or catch reflective glimpses of ourselves. By no means! What I am saying is that we must accept that even our best efforts are sometimes not sufficiently empowered to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves. If our best efforts were always sufficient, there would be no need for a savior. Grace would have been God’s worst ever investment.
What are you hitting yourself over the head about? STOP!!! Jesus was the perfect payment made on your behalf so that you don’t have to fear failure, a sense of deficiency or being labelled a “nobody”. Here is how Casting Crowns put it, in their song “nobody”:
Cause I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody
All about Somebody who saved my soul.
Accept Christ’s gift of significance and thank Him.