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Apr 29, 2011

Know Who You Are

The ancient Greeks told us to “know thyself.” Throughout the centuries men have struggled to figure out who they are--both to themselves and to the world. Many have offered suggestions of how to do this. Gandhi recommended, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Entertainer Pearl Bailey suggested, “You never find yourself until you face the truth.” For Christians, facing the truth means seeing ourselves in light of the one who called himself “the way, and the truth, and the life.” Throughout the Bible, godly men have come to grips with who they are, especially in relation to God.

Companies have mission statements. Men should have identity statements. In the movie Gladiator, the hero gave this bold statement of who he was to the Emperor of Rome himself:
“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
Yes, “Vengeance is mine…says the Lord,” so I can’t fully endorse his last line, but still, that’s a pretty clear statement of who he is and why he’s here.

God himself makes his own declarations of his identity. In the Old Testament God told Moses, "I AM WHO I AM," and that he should be referred to as “The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

This continued into the New Testament when Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter wisely answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Finally, in Revelation, Christ announces of himself, “I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” and “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

We as mere men should also know who we are, even to the point of being able to put it into words. When we can clearly and succinctly express who we are, we can establish our true identity in Christ and affirm our God given purpose and priorities. Our biblical heroes knew who they were and gave us some great examples of this.

David told King Saul, “Your servant has struck down both lions and bears…the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” After seeing God, Isaiah confessed, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

When asked who he was, John the Baptist answered, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’...I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie...for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”

The apostles clearly knew who they were and what purpose they were given. Paul claimed to be “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,” and “a prisoner for Christ Jesus,” who believed “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Peter referred to himself as “a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” Jude considered himself “a servant of Jesus Christ” and James took the title of “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

So Christian man, if someone were to ask you who you are or what your purpose in life is, how would you answer? Would you simply give your job title from work like we often do? Would you identify yourself as someone’s son or husband or father? Or would you tie your whole identity and purpose to your Lord and King? Consider following our biblical examples and come up with an identity statement of your own. Repeat it to yourself, offer it to God in prayer, and be ready to declare it to others who want to know who you really are.

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