Understanding Yourself

A crowded Southwest flight was canceled because of a mechanical problem.  A single gate agent was re-booking a long line of inconvenienced travelers.

Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight,”

The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these people first, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.”

The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?”

Without hesitating, the attendant smiled and grabbed her public address microphone: “May I have your attention please; may I have your attention please” she began – her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal. “We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Gate 14.”

Yesterday, we discussed the importance of understanding the Word of God. But it is also important to understand who we are. The Greek philosopher is reputed to have said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” This sounds good, but is flawed. First of all the Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10).

Secondly, it is often difficult to understand and know our true motives. The prophet Jeremiah warned, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer 17:9).

The admonition “be not deceived” is a constant refrain throughout the New Testament. It is possible to deceive ourselves about our religion, our intentions, and our relationships. The Russian novelist Dostoyevsky once wrote, “Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.”

If we are truly to understand ourselves, we must honestly look inside ourselves. The Bible exhorts, “Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). The best way to do that is to heed the advice of James and look into God’s Word like a mirror. See yourself in the light of God’s commands.

Understanding yourself means to understand your motives. What is the basis of your behavior? What causes you to do what you do? What is your true passion? Are your reasons for doing what is right honorable and ethical?

Understanding yourself involves a realization of your responsibilities. Your role. Your obligations. Your place in society. In your home. In your church. Denying personal accountability and responsibility is almost an epidemic in our current culture.

Understanding yourself means a honest apprisal of our talents, gifts, and skills. It is neither “thinking more highly of yourself than we ought to think,” nor is it demeaning ourselves. With the right balance of self, we do the best we are able to do and do not venture in those areas beyond our ability.

All of this requires self examination. An honest understanding of who we are. A willingness to really scrutinize ourselves. And the humility to admit what God already knows about us.

Finally, coming to an understanding of our true self becomes an exercise in futility if we are not willing to correct our flaws and change. “Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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