I am excited about it because I believe in the next several weeks we are going to discover some exciting things about how God has made us and about our purpose as the children of God. And we are going to discover how our self-image is connected with our understanding of God's image in us.
In Genesis 1:26 the Bible explains how God created man in His own image. There is a lot of talk today about self-image, about improving your self-image, the importance of self-image. Parents say how can I rear my children to have a healthy self-acceptance and self-image. I believe this series is the answer to that because it gives us the Biblical principles.
Genesis 1:26-27 " Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
You don't have to travel very far around the world; in fact you don't even have to leave your own hometown to realize that God is a God of variety. God evidently like variety because He made so many different things and He made so many different people. God created, they tell us, about 300,000 different kinds of beetles. Can you imagine that? That is creative overkill. I mean wouldn't 50,000 beetles have been enough for God? But He created 300,000 different species of beetles. God created every snowflake to be different. In one cubic foot of snow you can find some 18 million snowflakes. And every snowflake is different than every other one. And nobody sees their difference except God. So God created a variety of things. He created different things, in different sizes, and different shapes because God evidently enjoys and loves variety. He loves different things.
And when God was ready to create man, God created all different kinds of people. You know, I was in LAX (Los Angeles international airports in California) last Thursday, I had to wait for praise and worship team who came to Los Angeles from Korea. And of course, on international flights you see people from all over the world. Now if you really want to see the variety of people that God has created, I can't think of a better place to do that than an airport. Watching the people come and go. People of every size, every description, every race and every color. God made so many different kinds of people because God enjoys variety. And not only did God make them, but God did not make two people on this earth who are living now or who have ever lived who are alike. Every person God made is different, not only in their appearance, but they are different in their image, in who they are, because God loves variety. So when we think about how God created us in His image then we see what the Bible means when it says that God created every man in His own image and He made us all different.
I. THE SOURCE OF YOUR UNIQUENESS
Now the first thing I want you to see as we think about this is the source of your uniqueness. There is no other person like you. No two people have the same fingerprints. No two people have the same footprints. No two people have the same voiceprints. Did you know that there is nobody, any place; anywhere in all this earth that has ever lived who is like you? You are uniquely you and the source of you is God. Look at what the psalmist said as he wondered about this in Psalm 139:13-14. He said, "You God created every part of me. You put me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous." Now the psalmist had a good self-image because he realized that his self-image was derived of God's image in him. And he just marveled at the way God made him. He was so grateful for who he was. And you know, today, so many people are suffering from a poor self-image. They wish they were different. They fell that not only do they do what is wrong, but also they feel wrong. And they go through life wishing they could be something else than which they are. And it is going to be a wonderful discovery and I pray that we will discover it in this series when we realize who we are. And we come to appreciate who we are because our creator is God.
Now there are three truths about this I want to share. Job said your hands formed and shaped me. It is though the creator Himself formed every part of you with His own hands. And there are three things about this source of your uniqueness. Number one, you are unique. I have already explained that.
And secondly, you are complex. How many of you live with another person, a mate who is complex and you have a hard time understanding them? Maybe you have lived with them a long time, the longer you live with them, the more complex they are and the less you understand instead of the more you understand. Well, God made each of us very complex. When God created us in His own image, God made us in such a way that sometimes we are a mystery to ourselves. Do you really understand yourself? Have you ever been in a group and in the circumstances that occurred as you were in that group; you reacted in a totally different way to everybody else in the group? They reacted one way and you reacted in a totally different way. Have you ever had the experience of reacting to something and saying something and you thought later on why did I react that way? I don't understand why I felt that way. I don't understand why I said what I did. I don't understand why that ticked me off, why I exploded. I just don't understand why I did that.
You see, you are very complex and to understand your complexity is a real key to improving your self-image, to know that God made you the way that He made you. You are unique and you are wonderfully complex.
And number three; God made you for a purpose. God says you are made for a purpose. Everything God made and placed on the earth, God made not just because He didn't have anything else to do, but God had a purpose for everything and every person that He has ever made. When God made man in His own image, God made a creature with which He could have fellowship and friendship. So you were designed by God. And that means that you are not a mistake, you are not an accident. It means that God on purpose, with His own hands, shaped and formed everything about you and who you are both inward and outward. And you were planned before the foundation of the earth. You weren't just randomly made. God didn't just throw you together, but God made you to fulfill a certain purpose and a certain destiny. You are you because God wanted you to be you. The source of your uniqueness is God. He made you in His own image.
II. THE SHAPE OF YOUR UNIQUENESS
Notice not only the source of your uniqueness, but also the shape of your uniqueness. The shape of God's image in you. There are five parts to your God given image. And I have given you an acrostic, “I M A G E.” And each one of these letters stands for a part of your image. And to understand it we are going to be explaining these over the next five weeks.
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." We are God's workmanship. When we criticize ourselves we need to be careful because we are God's workmanship. And when you are created in Christ, you are recreated in the image of Jesus. And the Bible says it is very important to understand this. So, there are five parts to your image.
Number one; "I" stands for your inward man or your inward self. That which motivates you, that which drives you, that which causes you to do what you do, that which gives you some special interests in life, what you are on the inside. Look at Philippians 2:13, Paul said, "for it is God who works in you inspiring both the will and the deed for His own chosen purpose." There is someone who is working not just on your outside conduct, but on your inside, on your thoughts, on your dreams, on your hopes, on your aspirations. It is whom you really are within, that is your inward man.
And your inward man is very, very important. The Bible says you are God's workmanship and God is at work on the inside of you. Now, all of us have different interests. We have different drives. There are some things that you care about very deeply that don't really interest me, and vise versa. That is because God made us differently on the inside. And there is a lot of conflict that comes with other people and other relationships because we don't understand that God made people different on their inside, in their heart, in their motivation. A lot of conflict in marriage because we don't understand that our mate is not the same as we are. Don't respond like we do. God didn't make them the same, He made them different and He made them different for a purpose. It is God in you who is working, inspiring your world, the Bible says. And the deeds that you do. So your inward man is your basic motivation in life. It is what you would want to do if you fly across the ocean somewhere and you lay down on the beach and the sun is beating down and you begin to think. And whatever you begin to think about, that which you choose to think about and interest you most, is what is inside your heart. And we are going to talk next week about your inward motivation. About how God has designed you on the inside.
Now secondly is the letter "M", make up. "M" stands for make-up that is your personality. And how God has designed all the aspects of your personality. Now in Proverbs 4:23 the Bible says, "Your life is shaped by your thoughts." And God has placed a certain combination of personality traits within you that we call your makeup.
If you have read Tim LaHaye, in many of his books he describes the four basic personality temperaments. And others describe this and it is very fascinating for you to study the four basic personality types and to try to determine what type you are, what your make up really is. We will spend a whole Sunday talking about the types of personalities so that you can identify your make up, your personality. That is a part of your image. That is a part of who you are. And I will just briefly list them for you so you can jot them down. You may want to get Tim LaHaye's book on personality temperaments, on spirit filled temperaments.
But number one is sanguine. The sanguine person is a person who is fun loving. In fact their goal in life is to have fun. The important thing is not exactly what they do, but that they have fun in whatever they do. That is number one to them. And they are not concerned about the details of life or whether or not life is organized, as long as they are having fun and enjoying it. They are easy going, outgoing kind of a person.
And then there is the chloreic person. The chloreic person is a driver. A chloreic person has to be very organized. If they go on a trip, they have to know exactly where they are going to be, how much time they are going to spend there, how they are going to get there. They have to have everything in life in order. And usually they are a person who makes a good leader because they not only want everything in order in their lives, but they want everybody else around them to be organized and they have to do life by plan. The chloreic person, the hard driver, many times, they are work-a-holics.
Then number three; there is the phlegmatic person. And the phlegmatic person is a person who is more introverted, is very easy going, and is very laid back. Doesn't get too upset about anything. If things don't go exactly right, they don't care too much. They are able to focus on something only when it is something that really interests them. Otherwise, they don't pay too much attention to anything around them. So you may be a phlegmatic person. Or your mate may be a phlegmatic person and you are a chloreic person and they drive you up the wall because they just fly by the seat of their pants all the time. And you don't understand why they are not more concerned about all the specifics and the details of the home or of the marriage or of your life. Well, God made them that way.
Then there is that melancholy person that is number four. And the melancholy person, many times, is a very introspective person, a very serious person, and a very moody person. They are a very caring person many times. They can help comfort people. They can help counsel people, they can minister to people many times, but yet they are melancholy and so hard on themselves. So critical of themselves and it causes a lot of difficulty in their life. But it is a part of their make-up.
Now there is a lot more to the personality temperaments, to your make up than that because you may be a combination of all of these. You may be a combination of two of them and most often we at least see two of these dominant personality traits in your life. It is your image. It is who God made you to be. So when somebody begins to be critical of you or if you don't understand somebody else and why they act as they do, think as they do, feel as they do, it is because you don't have the same make up. So your personality is totally different. Your make up is totally unique. And it is not like theirs. So it helps you to understand other people. It helps you in your relationships with other people.
And the reason that it is important is that when you are born, you are born with certain make up, certain personality traits that basically never change. A long time ago, people argued about, it is heredity or environment. I mean, which is the most powerful? Which affects people more? Are people like they are because they grew up in a certain context? Or are they like they are because they were born with a certain trait?
Well, there is no doubt about it now.
The studies have shown more and more and more through the years, that there are certain personality traits that you are born with. And you will never be any different. And you will never change those. That is who you are. That is who you are going to be. That is the way God made you. And we don't use that for an excuse. And we don't say that we can't develop and grow and mature and become the very best we can be with the shape that God gave us. It does tell us something about the fact that when some babies come into this world, some of them come out with a smile on their face, laid back and happy; others come out with a cry and they never stop crying out and demanding attention. That was the way they were made.
You basically are still the kind of person you were years ago. If you played pranks as a kid in school, when you are seventy years old you will still be playing pranks. If you are a wheeler-dealer out on the playground at recess and you are getting everybody to give you their marbles, then probably you are going to be a wheeler-dealer all your life. When you get in the rest home someday you will probably be wheeling and dealing everybody out of their bedpan! I mean that is who you are. And that is all right. That is the way that God made you to be. That is your makeup.
And then "A" stands for abilities. Paul said in I Corinthians 12:6 that we have certain abilities to minister for God. He said there are different abilities to perform service. When God got ready for the people to build the tabernacle, God said all right, now I have given all of you certain skills and abilities. These are natural abilities. These don't have anything to do with the fact that we are saved or children of God. We were naturally gifted in these ways. Some of you who love computers, others of you who don't even understand a computer and you don't want to understand it; there are some of you who are mechanical. You understand mechanical things, how many of you are mechanics? I want to see who you are so I will know who to call when I have car trouble! There are others of us, like me, I can't stand mechanical things. I make it worse when I work on something, it is bad, it is a disaster, but that is just the way I am. I have different abilities. Some have the ability to write and to speak; others have other abilities to do other things.
You may say, well I don't have any abilities. I want to show you the natural abilities that God has given you. And if you can raise your hand today, you have ability. Did you know that there are 500-700 abilities that every person has? Every person has 500-700 abilities to use for God.
Then "G" stands for gifts. And gifts are different than abilities. Abilities are natural, but gifts are super natural. Gifts come to those who are children of God. When you are saved, at the moment of salvation, God gives you a super natural gift, an endowment of motivation for ability to serve God. And God gives you that gift to minister to others within the body of Christ. And nobody else can perform that but you. And there are many gifts mentioned in Scripture. There are seven basic motivational gifts but many gifts and many ways the spiritual gifts are used for the glory of God. You will never be happy as a Christian until you are operating in the area of your spiritual gift within the body of Christ. You will never have that joy, that satisfaction.
And then "E" stands for experiences. In Romans 8:28 the Bible says, "We know all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans." In other words, God allows you to have certain experiences and with these experiences He molds and He shapes and He improves the image within you until one day, you are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. So you need to know how God is working in your life. How He uses the experiences of life.
Now under that there are three things I want to tell you about your image that you need to realize. Number one, your shape and your image are interrelated. All these things, these five things work together to make you who you are. To make you different than anybody else.
And number two, they are fixed. I have already talked about that. They are constant, they do not change. When the apostle Paul was saved, he had many abilities and personality traits. He had zeal, he persecuted the Christians. He had dedication. He had a great intellect. He had a great mind, a great education. Well, God didn't totally change those things when He saved Paul. He just redirected those things. So, his zeal was for Christ and his mind was used to write the Scripture. And God took Paul as he was and redirected those character traits in him to glorify Jesus Christ.
So when you become a Christian God takes those things that are you, that image that He has given you, the way He made you and God redirects it so it works for His glory. And God works in a wonderful way. It is great to understand how God takes the person who is you because God has something for you to do that nobody else can do. And God uses you for His honor, for His glory and for His purpose.
III. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF OUR UNIQUENESS
Let's look at the significance of our uniqueness. In Romans 8:29 the Bible says, "For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son." And the King James says to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren. Look at Colossians 3:10, the Bible says, "we put on the new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge, in the image of its creator."
Now, physically you and I were created in the image of Adam who was created in the image of God. Adam was created in the image of God and Adam sinned. So the image of God was marred in Adam. But when we come and give our life to Christ we are recreated and created once again in the image of Jesus Christ. Our personality traits are the same; our abilities are the same but God reforms us and reshapes us. And we understand who we are and why we are like we are and understand that God is working in us to conform us to the image of Jesus. Then we have a healthy self-image because we realize the image that we have is the image that God gave to us. He made us to be the way we are.
There are four things that will happen if you understand who you are and why you are like you are and you understand the purpose for it all.
Number one; it reduces stress. As I said there would be many conflicts in relationships because we are all different, but if you understand that everybody is different, if you understand about your own self, that God made you who you are, He made you for a purpose, and then it reduces stress and conflict in your own life. You don't have to feel guilty about who you are; you don't have to try to be somebody else. In fact, you know, you can't be somebody else, the only person you can really be is you. You can try to copy somebody else, but it is not going to work. The only person you can be is you. And it reduces stress in your life. You don't have to worry about comparing yourself to somebody else and want to be like "THEM". You can try to be like Jesus and be the person God made you to be.
It not only reduces stress, it increases success. Because real success is not just making money, it is not just receiving praise of men, it is not just reaching your goal, real success is knowing the person God made you to be and becoming that person, conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Listen, if you are who God made you to be, if you are doing what God made you to do, if you know the will of God, if you are in the center of the will of God, you are successful and it doesn't matter what the world says, because God will say you are successful. It increases your success.
Did you know that 50% of the people in the world are in the wrong job? They tell us they are unhappy in their job because they are not in a job that fits them. They are in a job that they weren't made to do. And those people will find a way to express who they really are if they can't do it in their job they will do it in the church or they will do it in some hobby, but they are going to be who God made them to be.
Education needs to learn this. Only 25% of the people learn by reading and studying and being tested. There are 75% of people who can't learn very well that way. Now if you are in the 25% who can learn by reading and studying the normal educational process, you probably made "A's" or "B's", but if you can't learn that way, you probably didn't make very good grades. But it doesn't mean you are dumb, it has nothing to do with your intellect. You see grades don't tell the story. Some people learn by observation, some people learn by experience, some people learn by watching somebody model it. And there are many, many people who are very brilliant and who are very successful in life who weren't great students, why? Because we don't always learn that way. It increases our success when we realize who we are and we become who God made us to be.
And number three; it produces satisfaction. Do you know what real joy is? Real joy knows you are being used of God. It is knowing that God made you the way you are, He is using you the way you are, you are fulfilling a function nobody else can fulfill in life, you are uniquely you and it is okay to be you. And God is using you in a very special way. That is real joy. And if you are not experiencing the joy of appreciating who you are by knowing that you are made in the image of Christ and if God is using you in a very special way, then I pray that your eyes will be open to this because it produces satisfaction.
Number four; it builds self-esteem. It builds self-esteem when you know that there is not something wrong with you because you are the way you are because of your inward man, because of your make up, because you are not like somebody else that you are inferior to them, because you don't excel in the same areas somebody else does if there is something deficient about you, if you understand that you are very special and that you are being conformed in the image of Christ, it builds your self-esteem. And you learn it is okay to be me, in fact, it is wonderful to be me!
God wanted somebody exactly like you. And there are two things I want to tell you about this. Number one, it says that every person is valuable. God doesn't make junk. And the reason I know you are valuable is the Bible says for God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. This week we stood at Calvary; we stood at the place where Jesus was scourged and beaten. He gave His life. Listen to me, you are valuable. If you don't believe it, look at Calvary. God gave His best for you that you might be conformed in the image of His Son. And I don't care how down you are this morning, how badly you feel about yourself, God says your life matters! <span style="font-si