A wholesome fear of God involves knowing yourself

By Dave Henning / December 8, 2017

“Know yourself and you will have a wholesome fear of God; know him and you will also love him.”- Bernard of Clairveux

“God, always the same, let me know myself, let me know Thee.”- Augustine, Soliloquies 

As John Ortberg continues Chapter 5 of I’d Like You More . . . , he describes what happens when we lack self-awareness.  It’s possible we’ll project our blindly festering fear, anger, greed, and complaints onto God and others.  Consequently, healing begins when:

  • we open ourselves to this factual truth – we don’t know the truth about us (emphasis John’s)
  • our desire to face reality overcomes our desire to avoid pain

In addition, each person in our life pulls us toward or away from our best selves.  Pastor Ortberg refers to this as “the elicited self.”  Also, writing in The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis observes:

“In each of my friends, there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out.  By myself, I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity.”

Furthermore, how we respond to the people around us constantly forms our elicited self.  These people question, flatter, challenge, laugh, encourage, or belittle.  However, only one master of eliciting our best selves exists – Jesus.  Pastor Ortberg adds: “The more intimate we are with Christ, the more we become like him — and the more we can become him to others.”

Yet, our sin blinds us from self-knowledge and a wholesome fear of God.  In conclusion, John notes two such areas of blindness:

  1. self-serving bias.  The Bible refers to this as thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3).
  2. fundamental attribution error.  We see our own failures as rooted in external causes.  However, we view other people’s failures as evidence of character flaws.

Today’s question: How does knowing yourself enable you to know God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The call to more conscious self-awareness”

About the author

Dave Henning

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