The question of “Who Am I?” is large and resounding. Every human asks it, some ignore it, and most possess a deep desire to find out. While it is an easy question to ask, it seems difficult to answer… but what if we are just looking in the wrong places? Our identity is not found in what we look like or the things we do. It is not what we like or hate about ourselves. It is not in our possessions.
We discover identity by expressing our belief, living out our values and pursuing relationship with God and people. But even these things do not fully identify us because our identity is in the One from whom all of those things come… Jesus. We are inhabited by His Spirit and grafted in as sons and daughters of God, reflecting His image and obeying His words.
In the process of life, we uncover who we already are… who we were created to be. As we walk in His ways and receive His gifts of life and love, we learn to live defined by God’s own character.
If our identity is outlined for us in Scripture the question then becomes, “How do I live fully in my identity?” In my own journey, I am finding that there are three practices that center us on Christ and propel us to live out who we were created to be… gratitude, rest, and generosity.
- G R A T I T U D E
One of the most shaping practices in the life of a Christian is gratitude. When we practice being grateful, our complaints and worries decrease as our contentment, joy, and peace increase.
Psychology Today says that, “gratitude is expressing appreciation for what one has, as opposed to a consumer-oriented emphasis on what one wants or needs.” It is pausing to notice the beauty in the ordinary, working at appreciating the people we struggle to love, and focusing on what we have and then giving thanks for it.
The cool thing about gratitude is that it can be cultivated intentionally. When we practice expressing gratitude to others, we actually increase our energy, positivity, and empathy… all the things that help us to spend ourselves. It is a beautiful cycle!
A philosopher named Epicurus once said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” His words are still true for us like Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When we live out of a grateful heart, God is made great and we are made humble.
- R E S T
The word “rest” is almost foreign to most of us living within American culture. Often times, a day off without anything to do seems boring. We often buy the lie that resting is unproductive. The truth is, when our minds and bodies are rested, we are propelled to live more passionately and energetically than when we are tired, overworked, and overwhelmed.
Rest helps us download all the things we have been learning and talking about. It helps us catch up with the fast pace around us and gives God room to speak into the chaos. Often, when we have a few minutes to ourself, we are on our phone, computer, or driving from one place to the next. Even when we feel that we aren’t doing anything, we are doing a lot. We have learned to constantly stimulate our brains, but we are actually wearing our brains down.
Take some time each day to sit or lay down and pray that God would quiet your spirit and help you to rest. Stay for as long as you can or want. As you develop this practice of daily rest, you will get better and better at quieting yourself and letting God fill that space.
- G E N E R O S I T Y
The third practice that centers us on Christ and propels us to live out of who we were created to be is generosity… the willingness to give of yourself, time, or resources beyond any requirements and without expecting anything in return. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul directs each one of us to give as we have purposed in our heart, not reluctantly, sorrowfully, or by force because God loves it when we give selflessly and joyfully!
A missionary named Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” When we give of ourselves and our belongings–things we cannot bring into eternity, we gain life, joy, and peace – things that will last forever. It is an amazing transformation!
If we are to spend ourselves, we must be ourselves. We must live in who we were created to be and let the love of Christ flow out of us. Let’s start by being people of gratitude, rest, and generosity.
How are you practicing gratitude, rest, and generosity?