Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5).
Self-improvement is a popular term. Just about everybody is on some kind of self-improvement program. There are programs to improve our bodies, programs to improve our minds, programs to improve ourselves socially, programs to improve our position in business. The list is endless because everyone wants to improve something.
What is our motivation? It may be self-exaltation, or a desire to counteract our low self-esteem. Something is behind it all, because we definitely are not satisfied with ourselves.
Is Christianity a self-improvement program also? Many of us enter Christianity because we have personal needs we have been unable to solve through any other program.
We enter self-improvement programs because we feel they give us security and significance. Everyone has a need for security and significance. If we don't find security within our families as children, when we become adults we look for it in money, or a meaningful relationship, or a nice home, or any combination of a number of things.
It is the same with significance. Again we look to money, or a good job, or a nice car, or a better body, or any combination.
Many people, including Christians, don't know we are secure in Christ:
Because we are loved unconditionally by God through Christ (Ephesians 2:4-6);
Because we are completely accepted by God in Christ (Romans 8:1);
Because we are eternally forgiven by God because of Christ (Ephesians 1:7).
Not only are we secure in Christ, we also are significant in Christ, because:
We are important to God in Christ (John 14:12);
We share in the eternal purposes of God with Christ (Romans 8:28-30);
We are fully able to do and be all that God wants for us, through Christ (2 Corinthians 3:5,6).
What is our problem? Why is everyone dissatisfied, and why do many Christians walk around feeling defeated and unworthy? It is because we don't understand God, and we don't have the foggiest notion of who we really are in Christ! We run all over the place convinced we have to do something to be worthwhile. That deception is blasphemous to the Word of God.
God performed a magnificent act of grace upon the entire human race, when He humbled Himself to redeem mankind out of the hands of Satan. The instant any human being proclaims his faith in that Gospel truth, God's grace takes over in that person's life. He becomes secure and significant in God's eyes.
There is more. Every Christian understands that he is saved from the penalty of sin, but very few Christians understand they are saved from the power of sin in their lives. They don't understand that dimension of God's grace.
The key is in our relationship with the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:2, we discover that the Holy Spirit set us free from the law of sin and death. The Holy Spirit indwells us (1 Corinthians 6:19) and regenerates us (John 3:5-8). He communicates to us the life of Christ.
Our problem is that we don't know how to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit. We are not inclined to trust anybody else with our lives, even God. We stay deceived, and spend our energies and our money on self-improvement programs to feel worthwhile. In the meantime, a fresh supply of God's grace waits for us every morning, just as manna waited for the Israelites in the desert.
The word, grace, means unmerited favor. God extracts us out of the world and places His Spirit within us, not because we merit the favor, but because we accept, in faith, the crucifixion of His Son as the means of our salvation from the penalty of sin. That is one expression of His grace.
In addition, He gave us His Spirit for our salvation from the power of sin. As we develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit, He changes our thoughts, desires, and behavior, imperceptibly to us, and we find ourselves progressively removed from the power of sin. That is another expression of God's grace.
We need most of all the grace to trust God. There is no reason not to. He demonstrates His love by holding the earth together in spite of man's attempt to blow it apart. He holds our lives together also, even if we are in a self-destruct mode. He has the greatest self-improvement program imaginable. God is love and He loves us. His program is free and it's fail-safe. Is there any reason not to join up?
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Am I on God's self-improvement program, or my own?