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Why Your Self-Esteem Should Flow from God


     I was a church-going man my whole life, and a walking, talking hypocrite; the kind the media loves to point out every chance they get. I went to church nearly every week and did believe in God, but I didn’t know what it meant to serve Christ. In fact, I was more apt to be considering the bets I hoped to place with my bookie rather than listening to a sermon or truly praising God. That’s who I was when it all started for me.

     My wife and I attended a Sunday School at our Methodist church.  I had barely spoken a word in class for three years. It was because I felt I had done too much wrong in my life to be speaking in front of people who were all better Christians than me. So I figured I would just sit back and go along for the spiritual ride. We started a study, though, that made me get involved whether I wanted to or not. It was a church-wide study on discovering our spirit gifts, and I was stuck in the middle of it.

     At first, I felt it was harmless enough. I believed this wouldn’t give me the guilty feelings I often got during these studies.  I was convinced I was a worthless mass of undeserving flesh that probably shouldn’t even be sitting with these people, but I know that was the devil now. He was using the 33 years of sin and regret I was carrying around with me to keep me bogged down. But that was all about to change.

     At the end of the course, we took a test. The gift that lined up with your highest score was supposed to be your spirit gift, but mine was wrong. It had to be.  Evangelism? Me? Ha! As we left the class I laughed, crumpling the test results into a ball and tossing them in the garbage where they belonged. How could a man who never spoke a word in church have the gift of evangelism? As we drove away I recall my wife asking me what my gift was. I laughed again as I informed her. The idea that popped into my head for this “gift” was phonies on TV, giving their hypocritical sermons and using people’s faith to bilk them out of millions. Evangelists were a bunch of hypocrites screaming at the camera, their hands raised and tears rolling down their cheeks. There was no way I was going to be like them.

     Then a funny thing happened. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. God kept putting that word in my mind, and I kept telling Him it was crazy. Evangelism wasn’t a gift for someone who’d been where I’d been and had done what I had. God was wrong. He had to be. Yet I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Finally I checked the study book to see exactly what this gift was supposed to be, and my personal spiritual turning point began. It defined evangelist as a person with a special ability to share the gospel with others and make them disciples of Christ. I started to see it in a new light.

     I thought back to my misspent youth, of days wasted in an alcoholic haze, but even then I would readily argue the existence of God with anyone. No matter how far I strayed, I never lost my fervent belief in God, nor my willingness to try to get others to believe. I began to think maybe there was something to this, and it ate at me. If there was, and God really thought I could be a good and faithful servant, could I continue avoiding Him? I started to think about this every day, and then I started to pray. I began to have quiet time with God as I walked my dog around my neighborhood at night. I needed to know if this message was true, or if I was just crazy. Did I really have this gift? If so, I needed to make sure. I had to discover, once and for all, if this was what He needed from me. And, if so, how someone who was afraid to speak at church could actually make use of such a wonderful gift.

     I began a six-month internal spiritual struggle trying to discover what God wanted from me, and even more so, what it meant to be a Christian. I continued to pray every night as I walked my dog, but then returned to the sinful lifestyle I was living during the day. I wasn’t kind to my neighbor. I wasn’t worried about the Christian example I set for others. I continued with many of the sinful habits that left me feeling unworthy in the first place. Yet every night, I continued to pray. Slowly these habits began to change. I started to have more love for my neighbor. As I turned more to God, I became less interested in living a life I hated. I began searching for that thing that would help me turn the corner and begin my path to Christ. But how could I get rid of all this guilt?

      As summer turned to fall, I continued internally arguing with God. I knew He had good things in mind for me, but I wasn’t worthy. I was hanging on to 33 years of sin and bondage that blocked me from serving God and grasping my spirit gift. That was when it finally happened. As I walked my dog alone down a darkened cul-de-sac one cool October evening, Jesus intervened on my behalf and gave me the words I so desperately needed to hear.

“Hand your sin to Me and I will carry it for you.”

     As those words entered my head, feelings of peace and joy overwhelmed me. Those were words I never heard before, words I had never been made to understand. They were so revolutionary they could have only come from one person: Jesus Christ. I accepted His offer immediately and I actually felt the burden being lifted from my shoulders. My spirit gift was free. I accepted Christ as Savior of my life standing in the middle of my suburban neighborhood, with my hands in the air and tears rolling down my cheeks. The evangelist burst forth and I had never felt so free.

     I began to use my gift almost immediately. When my Sunday School needed a teacher a few weeks later, few people were more surprised than me when my hand shot into the air. Who could blame them? The man who barely spoke a word would now be teaching them? I also got involved with our church youth. I began to help lead praise and worship and found a dozen other ways to be what God had always wanted me to be.

     Now ten years later I still serve every chance I get, inside and outside church. I teach two classes at church, help with youth on Wednesday nights, am involved in leading a Prison Ministry, and write my own devotions and Bible lessons. I was a worthless hypocrite saved by a Grace that knows no bounds, and am finally able to share that Truth with others. Because of Him, I am finally able to bring them the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and help them understand that He is always there for them, no matter what they’ve done.

     It’s never too late for Jesus.

                                                                                               - K.R.                                

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