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Food-poisoning1So they tell you to ‘Just be yourself’, and you assume they mean well? Think about it, fellow voyager, and you will soon realize that this admonition could possibly have seeped out from the same place as that one to which the Lord Jesus responded “Get thee behind me, Satan.” In the first place, what self are you thinking about? This bundle of evil-prone humanity that you so well know you are? This miserable aggregation of sin-craving dispositions whose chief dissuasion is fear of punishment rather than commitment to righteousness, whose surest restraint is the Word of God in ceaseless battle for a lasting grip on the heart and on the soul? This rebel on a leash, drawn back here only by sheer realization of his utter neediness, and by his inherent craving for fodder he knows only the Shepherd can afford? What Self, really?
I know about being myself, and it is not so much about following the dictates of Temperament as it is about deciding that what I am is good enough. I have no issues with an admonition that urges you to live your life within the confines or specifications of your natural endowments or temperamental dispositions, but I would come daggers drawn against any communication that seeks to encourage people to resist growth or changing for the better. And I must say that it does seem to me that when people tell you to be yourself they are, most of the time, merely saying, hey, don’t stress yourself seeking to be better; you’re fine as you are. Besides, even when your advisor has only temperament in mind, our natural inclinations are hardly some perfect molds to which we could just submit our wills and live happily ever after. A sanguine who lives in unrestrained expressiveness of his sanguine nature would most likely end up a nuisance to the rest of us. Similarly, unmitigated choleric manifestations would be generally unbearable. And when this ‘be yourself’ admonition refers to working within the confines of your natural endowments, there still must not be a sense of remaining on the same spot. David, when he was going to confront Goliath, found King Saul’s armor quite unsuitable to fight in. He chose to ‘be himself’ by going forth with weapons he was used to. But you cannot reasonably assume that David spent the rest of his life fighting his battles with sling and stone! He grew.
No, we cannot afford to just remain whatever we are. For Christians, we know that God has not called us to being ourselves. I assure you you will not find one verse of scripture that tells you to remain the person you are. We have been called to growth and transformation – ‘ until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. ’ If the growth process entails emulating some virtue in another, so let it be. If it requires stretching out a bit in an area that I’m not naturally inclined to, so be it. Following the path of least resistance, which is what ‘Just be yourself’ often advocates in disguise, does not produce victorious soldiers of Christ.
Before you swallow that next ‘Just be yourself’ morsel, please check it out first and know exactly what it’s holding.

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