Who God Meant You to Be
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Jesus teaches that we should “be perfect” as our heavenly father is perfect, but the word translated “perfect” is actually the Greek word telos.1 Telos is a word that means, “that for which you were intended.” The telos of a chair is to provide a place for sitting down. The telos of a building is to provide shelter. The telos of human life is to discover who we are in God’s image. When Jesus says, “be perfect,” he could just as well have been saying, “Be who you were created to be.” I have come to believe that human perfection is not about independence and getting everything right, but rather about vulnerability, interdependence, and admitting our need for one another. I have come to believe that human perfection is about giving and receiving, and recognizing one another as gifts.—Amy Julia Becker2
When I cleaned out my messy closet recently, I found a beautiful gift a friend had given me many months ago.
I remember when she gave me the gift—I was thrilled! It made me feel so special and loved that she purchased it with me in mind.
Yet somehow in the busyness of life, the gift became buried underneath “stuff,” hidden and unused. I can’t imagine how disappointed my friend would be if she knew I hadn’t continued to treasure it.
It made me pause and think about the gifts that the Ultimate Gift Giver has given each of us … and whether or not we’re using them.
1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”3
I envision God, with His infinite creativity, poring over each of us as He formed us, selecting unique abilities and spiritual gifts to prepare us for the work that He has called us to do.4 And not for our own good, but for His good and the good of His people.
It’s our job to steward these gifts. We must prayerfully consider what they are and how we can use them to serve a world in desperate need—this is our purpose, our calling.
Just imagine what the world would be like if we began to steward the gifts God has given us to serve each other and bring healing to the broken.
And unlike the gift my friend gave me long ago, let’s not keep our unique gifts from God hidden under a mountain of stuff in the closet of our lives. Let’s use our gifts for His glory NOW!—Michele Dudley5
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.—Psalm 139:13–14 6
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.—Ephesians 2:10 7
Your life matters. We all want to believe that—no matter what religious background we come from. Even atheists long to know their lives count for something.
The Bible says your life matters because God uniquely designed you. In Psalm 139 the Bible says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. … Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”8
God made you unique because he has a unique plan for your life. He personally oversaw your creation because he had something for you to do that only you can do. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. God has set you apart for a special use. How do we know this?
God designed you in his image. Unlike all the other animals in the world, you are designed in God’s image. Cows, goats, sheep, and ducks aren’t designed in the image of God. You are. You can choose between right and wrong. You have a conscience, and animals don’t. You can talk to God. You can pray to God. Animals can’t do that. In fact, the Bible says in Psalm 8:5, “You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”
God planned your life before you were born. God says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”9 God had a purpose for your life before you took your first breath. God thought of you before your parents conceived you. God said, “I’m going to use these parents. I’m going to use them because I want to bless the world through this man.”
God made you for his pleasure. Revelation 4:11 says, “For you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Look around at the universe. God made everything you see for his own enjoyment. Now look at yourself in a mirror. God made you to enjoy you. It’s why you were created.
You’re not an accident. You have great value because you were designed in God’s image, he planned your life before you were born, and you were made for his pleasure.—Rick Warren10
Do you know who the happiest people are? Those who accept themselves the way God made them, who learn to be happy with what they have and are not overly concerned about what others think. Struggling to live up to what you think others expect of you puts a heavy weight on you, but there’s freedom in humility.
If you were honest, I think you’d admit that you really admire people who have the courage to just be themselves, rather than try so hard to be something they’re not in order to fit in or impress others. Of course, those who make such decisions and take such stands often face loneliness and a feeling of isolation from others around them, which is sad.
You know, when I was young I didn’t like the way I looked. I thought my nose was too big and that I was too skinny and ugly. I had quite an inferiority complex about that, and it took me a long time to get over it. Part of it was my pride, and part of it was comparing with others. But then as I grew older, I realized it really didn’t matter. I understood that the Lord made me the way He wanted me, and that He made me that way because He loved me.
He loves you the way He made you, and you’re beautiful in His eyes. We’re all unique and special. In His eyes there is no ugliness, no matter what we look like.
Building self-esteem often has a lot to do with your relationship with the Lord. The closer you draw to Him and the more at peace you are with Him, the more content and at peace you’ll be with yourself, the happier you’ll be, and the more relaxed you’ll be. When you’re living close to the Lord, you’re handsome or beautiful because His love and His light shine through you.
I have a suggestion for you: Sit down sometime and let the Lord speak to you about yourself. Or ask someone else to pray and ask Him to tell you how He sees you, what your inner beauties are, what your inner strengths are, and what gifts and abilities He wants to bring forth in you, that He wants to see shine for others. Let Him encourage you, and you’ll find that you can actually be quite happy being His unique creation.—David Brandt Berg
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.—Catherine of Siena
Published on Anchor August 2016. Read by Simon Peterson.
Music by John Listen.
1 A telos (from the Greek τέλος for “end,” “purpose,” or “goal”) is an end or purpose.
4 Ephesians 2:10.
8 Psalm 139:13, 16 NIV.
9 Jeremiah 1:5.
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