A.W. Tozer was precise and scripturally correct when he said: “Self-knowledge is so critically important to us in our pursuit of God and His righteousness that we lie under heavy obligation to do immediately whatever is necessary to remove the disguise and permit our real selves to be known.”
Central to all your character and conduct is your self-concept. This simply means how you see yourself, knowing who you are. You must avoid an unhealthy preoccupation or obsession with self. Subjective distortions can be detrimental. But there is an awareness of yourself and perception of who you are that is central to your potential. It is important to be strong and clear about who you are. Perhaps these inquiries will find a place in forming and maintaining clarity in your knowledge of who you are.
Do you see yourself as a giver or taker? Actually each of us are takers (receivers), for we are the unworthy recipients of the generosity of God evident in our very existence (Acts 17:28). Christians are recipients of the grace of God and Christ, “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life,” (Titus 3:5b-7). Each of us, therefore, are takers (receivers, partakers). But in another sense the question ought to be weighed: Do you have greater interests in taking than giving? That goes to character. The teaching of Acts 20:35 is germane to this. “…And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.” The generosity of Jesus’ character & teaching ought to become our purpose, so that we are focused on giving not taking. (See also Rom. 12:8; Isa. 32:8; 2 Cor. 8:2).
Do you see yourself as a victim or perpetrator? There is a bothersome grumbling seen in people, always blaming others, pointing to circumstances and claiming to be victims. The cry (spoken or implied) is: “Everybody else is wrong. Everybody else is incorrect. Everybody else should take responsibility. Everybody should see and acknowledge my purity and know how unfairly I’m treated!” This is childish. It will help us – when things happen and generally in life – to prayerfully and cautiously evaluate if we were victimized or did we perpetrate the event or events. If you fall into the habit of dogmatically claiming to be the victim, this reflects an absence of humility. Assuming you never do anything wrong is a wrong approach. We are not always victims! We must not always and immediately come to our defense. Sometimes we are perpetrators! In fact, we are all perpetrators in this sense: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23). There is great value in humble self-examination.
Do you see yourself as a servant or a master? The Lord’s disciples, in their early days of coming to grips with the truth, sought greatness and vanity. Jesus responded by using a child to teach these grown men the humility they hadn’t yet embraced (Matt. 18:1-5). A few days later, the same ambition showed itself. Jesus responded again: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,” (Matt. 20:27,28).
Oswald Chambers has said: “If you are going to live for the service of your fellowmen, you will certainly be pierced through with many sorrows, for you will meet with more base ingratitude from your fellowmen than you would from a dog. You will meet with unkindness and two-facedness, and if your motive is love for your fellowmen, you will be exhausted in the battle of life. But if the mainspring of your service is love for God, no ingratitude, no sin, no devil, no angel, can hinder you from serving your fellowmen, no matter how they treat you. You can love your neighbor as yourself, not from pity, but from the true centering of yourself in God.”
Ultimately, all our inquires into self need to answer the question: Am I a child of God, or a child of the devil? Because of what Jesus Christ did, you can become a child of God; you can use the Word of God to know yourself, improve yourself and give of yourself to the Creator, to the Savior, to your family, your brethren and your fellowman.