“Your true self is not always your best self.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 27, 2021
Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:15 (NRSV)
Our culture places a remarkably high value on authenticity. We are encouraged at every turn to be true to ourselves, to show the world the most authentic version of who we truly are. And rightly understood, there is much to gain from this way of living. We should strive to live in such a way that our interior and exterior lives are consistent and harmonious. An integrated life is to be celebrated and longed after. However, as I see it, there is one profound danger with placing too high of a value on authenticity: what if you are authentically broken?
Some of the greatest pain we inflict on others, and receive from others, is when authenticity is made an absolute and unqualified virtue.
In working as a pastor for over a decade, I have seen countless lives and relationships broken beyond repair as a result of misguided authenticity. You may authentically long for someone other than your spouse, yet in that moment your authenticity betrays you and leads you down a path of death and destruction. Your truest self may be inclined to rage at your children for their disobedience and self-centered desires, yet giving in to this longing in the name of vulnerability or transparency is a profound failure to love and only compounds the brokenness of the situation. In your heart of hearts, you may be willing to travel 100+ nights a year in order to make it to the top of your industry, yet it is highly likely that this desire comes from a misplaced devotion to your own success and need for power and affection.
Simply put, your true self is not always your best self.
In Scripture, the path that is laid before us is not merely one of affirmation, but is always directed towards true and lasting transformation. If we simply affirm our most basic, carnal desires, we may be authentic, but we will never grow into the women and men our Lord is inviting us to become. We are meant, as Amos reminds us, to “hate evil and love good” (Amos 5:15), yet this does not happen by accident or on our own.
In order for love of God and neighbor to be the most authentic desires of our lives, we must daily submit ourselves to the transforming power of the Spirit. The Lord must revive and renew our innermost being, healing us of our vanity and love of self in the process. As his life becomes our own life, then authenticity can once again become a virtue and a goal towards which we strive.
Father, renew us from within so that our truest selves are aligned to the ways of your kingdom, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Where have you, in the name of authenticity, walked a path of destruction that fails to tend to your own need for renewal and healing?
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