We as humans are plagued with insecurity. It comes in all shapes, sizes and masks. It’s something that deeply affects our ability to relate, which in turn hurts relationships, which affects our ability to faithfully love and minister to people.
When we feel insecure, we not only perceive ourselves as incapable of meeting life’s challenges, but we’re also dishonest with ourselves and feel unworthy of true happiness. We move through life plagued by a sense that others have judged us and found that we are lacking; and the only way out is to accept that you truly are lacking on your own. But we will get their in a little bit.
First let’s learn more about insecurity and remember that insecurity is not objective. Rather, it is a very partial or prejudiced emotional interpretation of our value unconsciously or consciously based on doubt, shame, and fear.
TWO MAJOR WAYS INSECURITY REVEALS ITSELF
Secure people find validation from God. Insecure people attempt to find validation from within themselves or other sources outside themselves. This search for security manifests itself in two major ways:
1) A person becomes overly selfish. A selfish person attempts to find security by surrounding himself with possessions, accolades, and attention. This person also tends to always talk about themselves. They are constantly trying to gain approval by talking about their life, problems, accomplishments, or whatever else might gain them more acceptance. They typically take advantage of the overly accommodating person.
2) A person becomes overly accommodating. An overly accommodating person attempts to gain the approval of other people by bending over backwards for them. They are unable to draw healthy boundaries in relationship and end up giving way more than they should, but they can’t stop because they are feeding their desire to be acceptable so they feel worth and value. They typically attract the overly selfish person.
SIGNS OF INSECURITY
Insecure people tend to be very sensitive to critique and respond with defensiveness. They aren’t comfortable enough with themselves to accept that they might be flawed. “It may not be wise to make that decision.” Response: “Who are you to judge!”
A secure person can handle criticism. They’re open to hearing about ways they might improve. If they disagree with the criticism, they don’t try to argue because they’re happy with who they are. They’re comfortable enough to be themselves, even if other people don’t like it. They realize that they can’t please everyone.
Can’t Enjoy Silence
Some insecure people just can’t deal with silence. They fill every void with meaningless chatter, almost to avoid having to reflect on themselves. The unfortunate consequence is the annoyance of everyone around them, who secretly look for an escape.
A secure person can tolerate, and often enjoys silence. If they are with someone else, they have the ability to let someone else talk without having to interject their own perspective or story.
Another coping mechanism for insecurity is constant joking or sarcasm. While a sense of humor is almost necessary for emotional health, the excessive or sarcastic joker doesn’t seem to know the limits of appropriateness. (Think Michael Scott on the Office)
It feels good when everyone laughs at your joke, and an insecure person craves this sort of attention. The unfortunate consequence is an uncomfortable environment and an insensitivity to others. Jokes are almost always more funny when they are well-timed and delivered by a person of confidence. Security gives you the ability to be sensitive of others; knowing what they would consider funny and what they would consider offensive.
Insecure people tend to talk about themselves constantly, as if they feel like they have to prove themselves. Self-promotion is what they use to over-compensate for their doubt. “Oh yeh, I’ve done that before. Actually, I excelled more than anyone else in that area.” “I’ve done ministry for years…I “know” youth ministry.” A confident person doesn’t need to promote himself. His qualities are displayed naturally by the way he lives his life.
Insecure people feel threatened by others, and one way to cope with this is to try and squash them. The most threatening person of all to an insecure person is a secure person, because they can sense their power. This is particularly destructive within intimate relationship and many women are bully’ed (abused) by insecure men.
Insecure people in positions of power tend to compensate for their lack of confidence by taking out their frustrations on their subordinates (again, think Michael Scott from the Office; ). They might issue unfair punishments or orders as a way to prove their authority. This is too is particularly destructive within intimate relationship.
Competitiveness is part of a healthy emotional makeup, but over-competitiveness is a sign of a problem. Someone who can’t take losing by making a big emotional display lacks confidence as well as someone who will do anything to win (you know someone is too competitive when they get angry at Scrabble).
A person who is secure with himself wins or loses with grace. Grace has a lot to do with respecting your opponent, and you can only do that if you are first comfortable with yourself.
A very dangerous coping mechanism for insecurity is buying things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t like, with money you don’t have. We can all think of people with huge TV’s, fast cars, and every toy known to man; even though they don’t make much money. People like this tend to run up their credit cards and get themselves into big trouble or never have a savings.
A secure person doesn’t need to show off. He doesn’t care what other people think about his possessions.
Insecurity in Relationships
Insecurity tends to be amplified in relationships. When this happens, there is a constant struggle for control. Interestingly enough, people tend to be attracted to other people at the same level of security. This is why you shouldn’t complain about the immaturity or insecurity of your spouse… if they were more secure or mature, they wouldn’t have married you. You both should need to grow up!
A healthy relationship is made up of two secure people who are comfortable with who they are and have a good understanding and acceptance of their deficiencies. An unhealthy relationship is made up of two insecure people who emotionally take from one another to make themselves feel better.
An insecure person is constantly worried about their spouse leaving the,, and is extremely jealous. This manifests itself in constant questioning, mistrust, and altercations with other people.
A person who is secure with oneself is able to trust his spouse. He can do so because he doesn’t depend on another person for his well-being. He knows that he will be okay no matter what happens because of who he is in Christ. If someone betrays his trust, he is fully capable of either forgiving them, or setting appropriate boundaries to be healthy.
Abuse is where insecurity in a relationship becomes extremely destructive. Men in particular become abusive out of the need to control their partner. Instead of loving them for who they are, they try to force them into being someone else. This is a sign of a wimp…. and a very insecure person who needs a lot of help.
Stays in Abusive Relationships
Remember how insecure people tend to be attracted to each other? Unfortunately, this means that (in most cases) abusive men end up with overly accommodating women who take the abuse. She ends up falling for one after the other. She has such little confidence that she is convinced that it’s her fault and she deserves that kind of treatment or is not strong enough to leave. This is one of the hardest insecurities to break because of the isolation and lies that abuse creates.
A secure woman isn’t afraid of leaving an abusive man. She knows that she doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment and Jesus is enough for her (and the standard…).
Sexuality is a very powerful force, as evidenced by the amount of sexual images in our media. Men especially are strongly influenced by attractive women. Some women learn that they can get a lot of attention from men by flaunting their sexuality. Thus, an insecure woman who is seeking constant validation from others relies on her sexuality as a crutch. It becomes her main source of emotional stability and it begins to define her. And a man relies on getting some to feel like a man.
A secure woman doesn’t need constant validation. She is confident enough to define herself in many dimensions; not just one, because Christ has freed her from false idolatry.
So we are in a dilemma. We need some help in overcoming our insecurities which we all have at different levels. We’ve covered all that we did so far so that we can “become aware” of the areas in our ives where we are insecure and need help instead of living in denial and pretending.
So here’s where we’re gonna start: We have all heard about self talk and how constructive or destructive it can be. It’s true that self talk is a powerful reality in all of us, but I want us to consider what it looks like to talk to our souls or heart (the core of who we are) with the truth of the Gospel?
Some may think, that’s weird, but all of us talk to ourselves, we just may not be aware of it. All the messages of insecurity or arrogance that we receive in our minds are products of self talk that we want to convert into gospel talk.
The world around us recognizes the problem we have with sin and our flesh; they just do not have a biblical solution for it. It makes great sense to change our self talk so we are no longer destroying our confidence with painful and futile thoughts, and all of us can do this totally apart from Christ.
The world tells us to redirect our lives to become more productive and effective human beings, just not more godly and Christ-like.
So we can bring our self talk under the discipline of new thoughts (kind of like Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy) that work according to the flesh, but the our root problem is still there. Worldly change can only change bad behaviors into good behaviors, but they are still controlling who they are, not God.
Here’s a couple problems with self talk that only addresses changing behavior:
1) If Satan can become an angel of light, then flesh can become a reflection of that light and obey that “truth”. It’s not the true light, but a counterfeit light that can work well in time but never in eternity.
2) The other problem lies in the result of dealing only with our external and internal behaviors. Behaviors can change and our hearts can still be idolatrous and looking to other things to save or fix us. We cannot change our heart with self talk, and that, at the core, is our problem. We need something greater than ourselves!
The Bible tells us that there are two things that God breathed into and to give life.
1) The soul that He breathed into Adam: Genesis 2:7: then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
2) The Scriptures that He breathed through man to write: 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
God tells us that our souls and Scriptures are God-breathed. Both humans and the Bible are eternal, the only two eternal realities we have in our world. Everything else will pass away, but we and the Scriptures are eternal because God has breathed life into us in a special and unique way.
But sin has distorted our souls and made us something other than what God designed us to be. He created us to belong to Him heart and soul and to find all that we need and are in Him, not in ourselves. Gospel talk is actually soul talk, thoughts that arise from the very deepest parts of our being, that stem from God and His word and the particular things that Christ did to free you from the chains of sin.
The heart is the Hebrew way of talking about the whole person, and the mind is the Greek way. So when Romans 12:2 speaks of the renewing of the mind, this is the New Testament way of talking about renewing the heart or soul.
Let’s look at Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Responding to God’s mercies and radically giving ourselves to God and His will is the beginning of renewing our minds. We do this by filling our hearts and minds with the truths of God’s Word, not our fears and anxieties (which we will cover next week).
The Mercies of God
The mercies of God are the great motivators of the Christian life. For far too long the ghosts of our past (and our sinful nature) have driven us through guilt or shame or fear or pride or bitterness or many other destructive longings. The result of this is that we have quenched the mercies that God has poured out onto His children through HIs Son Jesus Christ, and know not of them.
This is what Paul talks about in Romans (chapters 1-5). He starts with the reality of our sin and that we are all under the same curse and then unpacks for us how God can be the just and the justifier of those who have sinned. And God calls for us to respond to Him through repentance (turning from our our sin and trusting God at His word).
What justification by faith in Jesus means:
1) A new identity as those who have been identified with Christ on the cross (righteous).
2) We no longer live as we used to live—motivated by guilt—because we’re not who we used to be.
3) We’re not guilty any more.
4) Even though we struggle with sin, there is no condemnation for us
5) And nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (see Romans 8)
But how can we be sure we can trust God to keep His word? Trust is a big problem with insecure people like us! How can faith be enough when we’re so guilty and the feelings are so strong and intense?
Paul reminds us that God justified Abraham by faith (Gen. 15:6). God also reveals His faithfulness to his promise through the story of Israel. Israel was faithless in the OT; and His plan to keep His word even to those who have dishonored His covenants with them is still in effect, now perfected in Jesus! This is why we must be in God’s word or else we’ll never believe what God has said and done!
We can take God at His word; we can trust Him! It is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). Our ghosts are false voices in our hearts that distort our souls, blind us from the truth of God’s word and take our true identity from us
Therefore, we must live in light of the mercies of God; then we will live in the light of God’s very life! Let me say that again in case you missed that: We must live in light of the mercies of God (know them and speak them to yourself because you believe in Jesus) & then we will live in the light of God’s very life! Finally, we will begin to become who we were created to be.
What steps are you taking to fill your mind with the reality of God’s mercies?
How do you confront the ghostly voices from your past with God’s truth? What part of the Gospel are you not believing?
Justification (you are not guilty or condemned)?
New identity (child of God)?
Empowered by God Himself?
Eternally preserved by God?
Part of a new reality (God’s kingdom)?
For so many of us “reality” is a matter of control; or lacking trust. This is where we get in trouble. For all of us at times, reality is something to be excited about, to move toward because of what it promises. Sometimes reality keeps its word, but many times reality deceives, misleads, lies, and disappointments.
For many of you, reality is a very bad memory you can’t escape from. But none of this is true when Romans 12:1-2 is true in our lives. When Romans 12:1-2 is a reality in our lives, we are slaves of God through Jesus Christ. Then we realize that all our ghosts are real, but none of our ghosts are true!
We can live in a new reality—God and Jesus are our new reality.
Now, reality means dignity, deliverance, freedom, love, peace, forgiveness, acceptance, joy, hope, REDEMPTION! This is the Gospel!!
Now, we realize that reality cannot be controlled because God is reality. That’s what godliness looks like. That’s what godliness is all about:
Taking God for real, believing what He has said and done, and living that way.
That’s what the faith of those who are chosen of God and are regenerate is all about. When God chooses you, He regenerates your heart, He makes you alive and able to hear and believe His Gospel, and that begins to change you from the inside out!
If you are in Christ, you are chosen of God.
You are not looked down upon so that you belittle who you truly are and settle for less —you are chosen of God.
You are not weak people who must prove yourselves strong—you are chosen of God.
You are not frightened people who must intimidate others into fearing you—you are chosen of God.
You are not lustful people who must over power others—you are chosen of God.
You are not driven people who must run over others to show we are #1—you are chosen of God.
Being chosen of God is what defines our identity and reality!
Oh may the mercies of our Lord Jesus Christ wash over our hearts and souls tonight and may the reality of you being a chosen son or daughter of God radically redefine your self-image. If you cannot say that you are chosen of God, tonight, your reality can change.
Jesus says in John 5:24: Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Trust Him tonight, and proclaim with boldness because of Jesus, that you are now chosen of God! Let God define your reality.