Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
I saw a poster recently with a picture of Michael Jordan on it. It caught my attention because it’s been over ten years since he played. Underneath his photo, in big letters, it said “Victory”. Then it wrote out the definition of victory. As I thought about it, he became synonymous with winning and victory, but that’s not his full story. Before he became a star, he couldn’t make his high school team. After he became a star, he failed at gambling, marriage and baseball. He failed in more areas than he succeeded in, but he did not let those failures define him.
You and I are the same. Our failures outnumber our successes. I get caught up sometimes just thinking about my failures. I wonder why I still try. I beat myself down because my failures seem so stupid. I think I should be able to beat them, but each time I fail, I get down on myself. I saw a friend on Facebook ask the other day, “Is it a true portrait of a man to see him when he is tempted?” I thought a lot about that. My first inclination was to say yes. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I thought that because I allow my failures to define me.
You and I are more than who we are when we are tempted and when we fail. We are also the person who knows where to seek forgiveness after a failure. We are the person who stands on mountain tops with our arms outstretched looking up to Heaven when we’ve succeeded. We are the person who pushes through when we don’t feel like it and no one seems to care. We are complex and should never allow ourselves to be defined or think that an accurate portrait of ourselves is who we are when we fail.
In Romans 8, Paul listed all kinds of things that could define us. At the end of that list, he said, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ.” It’s time we started to see ourselves as God sees us. We are not all the mistakes, failures or temptations that we face. You and I are victors. We are the very definition of victory if we are willing to get back up, seek forgiveness and to try again. We may not be considered synonymous with victory in the world’s eyes, but we are in God’s. When He looks at you, He doesn’t see a failure. He sees someone made in His image with the power to win.
Photo by Nathz Guardia on Unsplash
I’m working out of town this week so I thought it would be fun to watch the World Series in a group environment. I left my hotel and went to Buffalo Wild Wings knowing they would have the game. When the hostess was starting to seat me, I requested a seat where I could see the game. She replied, “What game?” I let her know I was referring to the World Series. She went and asked her manager about it and he informed me they would have it on a TV or two, but wouldn’t be playing the sound. I looked at him puzzled and he replied, “This is a football town. People don’t care about baseball.”
I thought it was strange that he just declared the whole city as a football town. Then I started to think how many times I label myself as something. I’m not good at that. I can’t learn that because I’m not good at math. I have OCD. I’m quirky. I’m an introvert. I don’t do well around other people. Whatever the label, we put them on ourselves and give ourselves an excuse not to do something. We’ve said things about ourselves so much that we can’t see any other options. We believe it so it’s true.
God does not define you by your limitations or labels. When He looks at you, He doesn’t see what you can’t do. He looks at who He created you to be. He sees the potential to rise above the labels you’ve anchored yourself with and desires that you cut free of them. The limitations you have in your life are self imposed. I know people who have physical disabilities who don’t allow themselves to be defined by them. They accomplish more than people without disabilities because that’s not how they see themselves.
If you allow the label you place on yourself, you will never be able to do what you dream of. You will never reach the potential of all that God created you to be. When He made you, He didn’t call you fat, stupid, lazy, disabled, impaired, OCD, tired or anything else negative. When He made you, according to Psalm 139, He said you were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It goes on to say, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!” If God thinks about you that much about you and they are precious thoughts, then it’s time you changed how you thought about yourself too.
Are you smarter than God? Do you somehow know things about yourself that He doesn’t? It’s time to have the mind of Christ and see yourself in the same light that He does. Quit looking at what you think are liabilities and see how He can use those for His glory. Quit giving yourself excuses not to try something or to follow His will by labeling yourself with negative things. You are more than your self imposed limitations. When you get that, truly get that, you will be free and you will open the door for God to use you like never before.