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We often hear the statement, “Be yourself”. In fact, it has been considered by many as a liberating thing to say to make others feel good about themselves. I am however convinced that it may not be the best advice we can give to someone if “being one’s self” means being selfish, arrogant, impatient, ill-tempered and the list goes on. If you tell me to “be myself” a few days before my period, anyone will easily become my enemy. I’d probably smash my laptop whenever my internet connection slows down or when I have just read the Facebook rant of a friend or relative against me. Whenever I refuse to “be myself” in any of these situations, I find myself rejecting my first impulse - choose to be quiet instead, take a deep breath and pray. When I am “myself” however could mean the exact opposite. It could mean putting my needs first before others, fighting for my right even if it means hurting God and other people, saying whatever I want to say to destroy others instead of build them or generally speaking, following the desires of the sinful nature.
This “be yourself” movement is similar to the popular excuse of people refusing to change for the better because according to them, “this is who I am and nobody can change me”. This is probably one of the most arrogant statements anybody can say. Many of the greatest people that ever lived made the most out of the criticisms of both their friends and enemies and they turned out better – not bitter. When the prophet Nathan revealed to King David what his sin was, David did not retaliate and used his power as king to punish him. Instead, he considered the message and immediately repented and changed for the better. The impossibility to transform one’s self is one of the biggest lies Satan has ever planted in the human heart. Anybody can change for the better by the grace of God given all the guidelines from the Bible and the community of believers through church sermons, bible study groups, seminars, gatherings, even books, magazines, the world wide web – name it.
Therefore we cannot be ourselves if it means staying stagnant in our character development or putting our needs first before the needs of others or generally disobeying the highest Christian calling of becoming like Christ. But if “being one’s self” means “bringing out the good side of yourself” then that is probably good. And to be truly good is to be empowered and filled by the Holy Spirit – or simply put, to ask God and allow Him to help us live like Christ. It is saying “NO” to wicked first impulses, to think twice before doing or saying anything, to transform the mind and align it to God’s will so that God is pleased and the believer enjoys the rewards of doing so. (February 18, 2014)