Who am I? The Good, the Bad, and the Gospel

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Yesterday, I wrote about the character of God in His own words. I was blown away by what I found in the Bible when I decided to study every place that God says “I am . . .” You can check out that post here.

I can’t change my own heart and mold myself into Christ’s image.

Certainly, the qualities of God are vast and impressive, but they become even more so when we get serious about who we really are.

Who are you?

It’s a simple question that almost always has a complex answer. If I asked you, “Who are you?” I bet you’d start with the good stuff (we all do). You might tell me about your beautiful family or your great job or all the ways you volunteer in your church or community. We like to polish our identity up to a high shine, but that’s not the whole story is it?

David has a way of writing with a brand of brutal honesty that I am drawn to in the Psalms. He finishes the sentence I am . . . in a way that checks my spirit. Here’s what he wrote.

I am . . . fleeting (Ps. 39:4).

I am . . . poor and needy (Ps. 86:1; 109:22).

I am . . . languishing (Ps. 6:2).

I am . . . lonely and afflicted (Ps. 25:16).

I am . . . afraid (Ps. 56:3).

I am . . . afflicted and in pain (Ps. 69:29).

I am . . . helpless (Ps. 88:15).

Are you ready for a confession? I am all of those things, too. As important as my life seems to me, the Bible describes it like a vapor (James 4:14). That’s what David meant when he called himself “fleeting.” I often find myself needy, lonely, afraid, and in pain, just like David did. I am helpless in the face of most of the problems I face. I can’t change my own heart, mold myself into Christ’s image, or keep all that scares me at bay.

While the news about who we are at our core is bad, the news about who God is couldn’t get any better.

And that’s not the worst of it. In Psalm 51, David described a personal attribute that I like to gloss over.

I am a sinner.

Paul answered the “I am . . .” question by describing himself as the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). Some days it feels like I’m giving him a run for his money.

When we line the reality of who we are with the beauty of who God is, our heart can choose from one of two options.

  1. We can wilt under the weight of our failings, and settle in with the feeling that we will never measure up.
  2. We can let the beauty of the gospel—that a God so big and powerful and good would extend grace and love toward us despite the fact that we are so desperately undeserving—make up for our slack. We can spend our days in gratitude instead of defeat because God is big, and we are small, and He loves us anyway.

From time to time it does us good to peel back the good stuff of who we are and smell the gunk underneath. But don’t dwell there. While the news about who we are at our core is bad, the news about who God is couldn’t get any better.

In light of what God’s done for you, how would you finish the sentence I am . . .? Leave us a comment below. I’ll choose one of you to win the Gospel Transformation ESV Study Bible.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read part one, “Who Are You, God?