Friday, 17 January 2014

Questioning “self-improvement”

Sometimes I think to myself, “you shouldn’t do this so much”, or “you should do this more”. Ways of ‘improving’ myself I suppose.  “You shouldn't laugh so loud”, “you should eat slower in company”. 
While some of the things I tell myself probably are good changes to make, not all of them are.  Some of them are simply things that I think would make me more agreeable to others.  They’re not good or bad changes to make, they’re just neutral. 

Then I wonder, shouldn’t I just accept myself how I am?  This is how I was made, why should I try to change that?  What’s so bad about having a loud laugh? 

But it is true that I should be working to better myself.  At least, I do want to be a better person!  Just as long as it’s in the right areas.  The areas that make me a better person, not the things that will make other people like me more.  “You should offer to help”, “you shouldn’t join in with the sledging”.
But even more than making myself a better person in the eyes of other people, I should be making myself a better person in God’s eyes.  Not all of ‘how I was made’ is good.  I, like all of us, was born into sin; it is in my nature.  And God hates sin. 
I should be getting rid of my sin, because I love God.  But actually, I know that’s not something I can do on my own.  It is God, not me, who makes me a better person. 

I know that my effort doesn’t count for anything with God, he has done it all and the only way to be saved is faith. 
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
It’s not being a better person that saves me, it is my faith and trust in Jesus, the only perfect person, who died in my place so that I could be free.  Thank you God for that. 


  1. Your theological sparring partner20 January 2014 at 13:25

    Right, you aren't saved by your efforts. Jesus has worked that for us (hallelujah!) But having been saved, what role does your effort play then? Is self-improvement against sin a legitimate exercise for the Christian? Is it something God wants us to do?

    1. I think we should be trying to get rid of our sin, and God does want us to be doing that. If we're complacent about our sin that shows we aren't really sorry about it and how it offends God.