12 Good Things to Remember When You Are Tempted to Indulge in Self-Loathing

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In the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), there is a scene where the main character (played by Jim Carrey) goes on a monologue about his feelings of self-hatred:

The nerve of those Whos. Inviting me down there—on such short notice! Even if I wanted to go, my schedule wouldn't allow it. 4:00—wallow in self-pity; 4:30—stare into the abyss; 5:00—solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30—jazzercize; 6:30—dinner with me—I can't cancel that again; 7:00—wrestle with my self-loathing...I'm booked!

It’s not only the Grinch—the truth is that each one of us knows all too well our own mistakes and shortcomings. And when it comes to finding someone to blame, the easiest person with whom to find fault is usually oneself. Here are twelve good things for Christians to remember when they are tempted to indulge in self-loathing:

1. It’s not just you—every one of us has messed up.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Rom. 3:20)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

2. Jesus was born in the flesh to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:6-7)

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3-4)

3. All who are in Jesus Christ are no longer under condemnation.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:1-2)

For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:19)

4. Jesus gives believers mercy and grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

5. While it’s good to recognize your sinfulness and great need of God’s grace, God doesn’t want his children to condemn themselves.

In Him and through faith in Him we may enter God's presence with boldness and confidence. (Eph. 3:12)

For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God. (1 John 3:20-21)

6. Believers have objective peace in Christ’s finished work on their behalf.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Rom. 5:1-2)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Col. 2:13-14)

7. Jesus sympathizes with your weaknesses.

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb. 2:18)

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Heb. 4:14-15)

8. The Spirit helps believers in their weakness.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Rom. 8:26)

9. Even though this life is fraught with hardships, God has called his children to a holy calling.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began. (2 Tim. 1:8-9) 

10. All believers have a secure inheritance from God.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Cor. 1:21-22)

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. (Eph. 1:11)

11. Nothing can separate believers from God’s love in Jesus Christ.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:6)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27–30)

12. You can stand firm because Jesus is the author and finisher of your faith.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2)

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