I realised recently that the first question God asked man was “where are you?” [Genesis 3:9-10] This was a question of self-awareness, not geography. God knew exactly where Adam was. Although Adam was made in the image and likeness of God, he had done something, and become someone antithetical to who he was created to be. Adam also realised this and hid. Interestingly, his reason for hiding was fear and shame. Additionally, when he was confronted by God, he tried to shift the blame. Sadly, many of us still behave like Adam. We try to hide our ungodliness because of shame and fear. We often pretend our imperfections don’t exist, and sometimes we try to abdicate responsibility for our actions by blaming someone else.
God wants to be able to say to us as He said to Jesus: “This is My beloved son (or daughter) in Whom I am well-pleased” [Matthew 3:17], but He needs our cooperation to make that happen. Let’s remember that when God saved us from the power of darkness (salvation), we couldn’t help ourselves. God did all the work. He also made us right with Him when we chose to trust in Him (justification). However, to become who He intends us to be (sanctification) is going to require effort on our part. Nevertheless, if we’re going to do this, we must first be honest with ourselves. We must know where we are. We must also be willing to confront our shortcomings, not from a place of fear and shame – which aren’t from God, but from a place of love and grace, because of what God has already done for us [2 Timothy 1:7].
God knows about all our shortcomings; the question is do we know them? Do we admit them? Are we doing something about them? Being self-aware is one of the hallmarks of maturity. In God’s kingdom, the standard of maturity is Jesus Christ and God’s desire is for all of us to become like Him [Ephesians 4:13]. So, are you aware of the things that are keeping you from becoming more like Christ? God’s question to Adam was prompted by something Adam did to compromise his relationship with God. It was a question that implied, “Adam, something is wrong here, do you know what you’ve done, who you’ve become?” I believe God confronts us with the same questions when we compromise our relationship with Him, not to condemn us but to create a path to sanctification [Romans 8:1].
The truth is many of us don’t like to be confronted with our imperfections because it hurts our egos. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, rather than being sober-minded [Romans 12:3]. We like to be seen in a light that accentuates aspects of ourselves we like and masks our imperfections. This has caused so many people to lead duplicitous lives, something exacerbated in our social media age. So often many of us portray lives on social media that aren’t true. We put up a façade with our family members, friends and colleagues that masks the truth about us. In some cases, many of us become so lost in our duplicitous web that we begin to believe our own false narrative. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but it’s hard to be honest with God about who you really are and also duplicitous with those around you.
Most of us willingly admit we’re not perfect, but we’re less willing to be confronted about our flaws. Being vulnerable doesn’t come easily to us. We’d rather deal with God directly when it comes to our imperfections and exclude people entirely. Yes, the Holy Spirit convicts us about righteousness [John 16:8-10], but God also uses people to point out the things in our lives He doesn’t approve of. So, how do we respond to this? Do you become defensive or try to shift blame? Do you hide behind excuses like “I don’t trust people” or “this is how God made me”, etc.? How does our response compare with Jesus? Jesus trusted people despite knowing they would fail Him. He was humble and vulnerable, and never defensive. We must emulate Him. Ultimately, if you’re exhibiting ungodly character traits, you’re not being who God created you to be.
Scripture says we’re to imitate Jesus and walk in the light as children of the Light [Ephesians 5:1, 8]. Light exposes everything; including imperfections. But that’s okay because God’s grace covers all our imperfections. Therefore, we can boast in our imperfections because they’re a conduit to God’s power [2 Corinthians 12:8-10]. Conversely, the devil wants us to walk in the darkness, where we succumb to fear and shame and hide because that gives him an advantage over us. So, remember, there’s no neutral ground, you’re either in the light or the darkness. Therefore, consider carefully where you are because you can only become more like Christ in the light.
Unfortunately, many of us have a habit of judging others for their failings – a right reserved for God alone. We make it incredibly hard for people to be vulnerable with us. However, Scripture says that our words should edify. We should only say what the moment requires to give grace to those who hear [Ephesians 4:29]. It’s much easier to be vulnerable and open with someone who practices this. All of us have fallen short of Jesus’ standard, and we’re all a work in progress. So, let’s seek to please God by helping each other along the way.
Lastly, what God said to Adam, He says to you and me, “it is not good for man to be alone” [Genesis 2:18]. Don’t do life alone – hiding, it’s dangerous. Make every effort to find someone or people you can build relational equity with, who can be honest with you about your flaws and help you to become more like Christ. Then, return the favour.