35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written, “’For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither life nor death, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:35-39
I recently took one of those personality tests that use dozens of questions to analyze and identify your strengths and weaknesses. The report that came back described a guy that my wife recognized, but that I wouldn’t want to be friends with. Apparently, my driven personality makes me pretty grumpy at times. It can be painful when someone else defines your identity.
First, who will you allow to define your identity? God reserves that right for those who belong to Him. No matter what you’ve done in your past, no matter what’s been said or done to you, God asks, “Who will bring any charge against my elect?”(Romans 8:33).Don’t let people define your identity. It isn’t that people will ever bring a charge against you. The truth is, who I am is defined by what God says about me. That should always trump what people or personality tests say. The truth is you have been given plenty of opportunity for people to charge you. But God is for me, not against me. He removes the shame and guilt of disappointing others; on even your grumpiest days.
Second, don’t let your performance define your identity. Unlike me, you may be quite proud of your personality test. You may be tempted to think, “God loves me because I’m so awesome.” NO! God loves you because He is so awesome! In those moments when your performance exceeds your expectations, remember God doesn’t love you more because of your performance. Humility says, “God loves me in spite of my performance.”
Third, don’t let persecution or pressure define your identity. You live in a world that is hostile toward those who find their identity in Christ. If you take a stand for Jesus, you can be sure the persecution is coming. Will you cave to the pressure and become like everyone else? Or will you sense the love of God when others don’t embrace your loyalty to Jesus? He suffered the greatest persecution because of His great love for you. If you allow your persecutors to define your identity, you will be tempted to compromise to relieve the pressure. But if your identity is in what God has said and done for you, you will stand courageously, knowing how loved you are.
Nothing anyone will ever say or do to you can separate you from the love of God. God stands ready to defend you against every false accusation. He even defends when poor performance or personality tests shout back at you.
Let that truth define your identity.
How do I respond when my beliefs about God are being challenged? Why do I do that?
Do I feel like a failure if my performance is minimized?
Prayer: Father God, thank you that I can still come to You even when I completely mess something up. Thank You that You ask, “Who can bring a charge against my elect?” Keep my mind so focused on the fact that nothing can separate me from Your love, that no matter what happens in my life, I know my identity and life rest completely in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.