Are we talking about an improvement of an image or the growth of the mind? If image is all you seek, you can buy that from companies that deal in ‘image building’. On the other hand, if you are interested in developing the gifts that God has given you that is entirely a different matter. The five talent man gained five other talents. The two talent man gained two other talents. The one talent man was afraid and dug a hole and buried his talent. Jesus called him a “wicked and slothful servant”. In this parable Jesus is saying, “Use the gift that God has given you.” You are not responsible to compete with the gifts that God has given others.” (Matthew 25:14-30).
The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Let the wicked man forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God and he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7). Man says, “Express yourself”, “indulge yourself and flatter yourself.” Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him DENY himself (daily) and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Man preaches “bring self out” and Jesus pleads “Give self up”.
Psychologists teach, “Discover yourself”. This tenet has some truth in it, but the need to discover self only brings one to understand “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The doctors discovered I had cancer of the colon. Discovery was necessary but did not cure the dreaded disease. Human pride and feelings of inferiority go hand in hand.
Psychologist’s give another answer which has some merit. “You must learn to resist temptation and destroy your lust and evil desires.” When you discover the disease, the next step is to excise or cut away that which is corrupt. The Apostle Paul agrees with this teaching when he wrote, “Mortify (kill or deaden) therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience” (Colossians 3:5-6).
Who would take over if President Bush were to die? You say, “The vice president”. “Oh no, the undertaker or mortician.”
To know one self not only reveals our weakness but unveils the good gifts that God has given us. Knowing oneself is a good beginning, but to stop there is only to sink deeper into depression. The desire to repent and turn away from the inner sins and weakness is a wonderful step in the right direction. But neither of these are complete without the great physician and the “Tough of the Master’s hand”. These two elements are echoed in the wonderful song “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see”.
John Newton is quoted as saying, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be, but by the grace of God I am not what I once was.” So Paul, having dedicated his whole life to preaching the gospel was still able to write, “was before a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious, but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:13-15). When our sufficiency becomes self-sufficiency, it is deficiency!
The rich man looked down on the little boy, dressed in rags, who had knocked at his door. It was in answer to the painted sign in the spacious front lawn, “Pedigree puppies for sale”. The boy counted out $1.87 cents and made an offer. If it hadn’t been so ridiculous it would have been funny. The pups sold for $500.00 each. “You can’t buy any of my pedigree pups, boy, get out of here and don’t bother me!”
“Well, can I just see ’em, the little lad begged? The mother dog suddenly appeared and following close behind was four little puppies. But there was yet one more, lagging far behind. He seems to be crippled in his hind legs.
“I want to buy that one” the boy cried, pointing to the crippled. “Oh, you don’t want to buy that one, even if you had the money, he’s crippled and good for nothing. In fact we plan to take him to the vet and have him put down.” The boy insisted and begged and finally the deal was struck. The rich man thought, “I’ll take his $1.87 just to teach him a lesson in basic economics”. The lad reached and cuddled the pup with such mercy and care and turned to leave. “Hey boy, tell me one thing. Why did you want to buy that particular one? Don’t you know he is crippled and won’t be of use to anyone? He’ll never run and jump and climb the hills like the others”.
The boy reached down and lifted his pants leg and revealed a heavy caliber leg brace. As he hobbled off he said, “I believe this one is going to need someone who understands him!” The greatest hope we have to avoid the feelings of inferiority is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). He understands each of us and stands ready to meet our needs.