Tim Keller | September 14, 2003
Jeremiah’s message talks about the difficulties of living in a society where everyone is trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. He says that this can be a difficult and unhealthy process, but it also gives us a chance to realize where we’re going wrong and to correct our mistakes. Jeremiah helps us understand how we form our self-image, why it can be harmful, what a healthy self-image looks like, and how we can change our perspective.
1. How we see ourselves
The word “hallelu” in Jeremiah 9:23, which is usually translated as “boasting” or “glorying in,” actually means “praise.” The verse suggests that we all want to be praised for our wisdom, strength, and wealth. It’s important to realize that this need for praise is a big part of how we form our self-image.
2. Why our self-image can be harmful
Jeremiah’s message shows us that the way we see ourselves can be harmful, especially when society is in a bad state. When we try to gain power and wealth to feel good about ourselves, we end up with a shaky self-image. This idea is similar to what Soren Kierkegaard said about sin being the attempt to define ourselves without God. This leads to an endless search for approval from others that never really makes us feel good about ourselves.
3. What a healthy self-image looks like
Jeremiah teaches us that the cause of problems like crime and injustice is not arrogance, but low self-esteem. True confidence, he suggests, comes from understanding and knowing God, not from personal success or wealth. This new way of seeing ourselves, as shown by Paul, is based not on self-esteem, but on not caring what people—including ourselves—think.
4. How to improve our self-image
The main point of Christianity is to seek God’s approval, not the approval of others or ourselves. We find our value in the cross and experience God’s unconditional love. Real satisfaction comes from pleasing God, not from the approval of others or ourselves. Christianity is a transformative way of knowing God. Through the power of the Spirit, we can live freely and build a deep relationship with Him.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
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