The design of the graphic was simple and attractive. Sitting on a blank, white background were two sentences in black, cursive font: “I didn’t ask you to be her. I asked you to be you. -God”
It was given as a direct quote from God.
When I read this, something didn’t seem right. I read it a few more times, and then it clicked.
The quote likely has two meanings. One is harmless, while the other is not. My concern is with the interpretation that you should be yourself, unapologetically, being our own example, with the quote credited to God. I have no problems with being unique — everyone is unique in some way because God created every person with a combination of different interests and personalities, and that’s the beauty of His creation. What I am concerned with is that the quote seems to have more of an inward focus and not enough upward focus; this was my first impression of the quote. If it was my first impression, it’s likely others’ too.
I’m sure the writer had good intentions and that the quote is meant to be inspirational or uplifting, and maybe even instill some kind of faith in God. But I find one mistake.
God never asked you to be you.
Of course, He still didn’t ask you to be her — but He also didn’t ask you to be “you.” Aside from the fact that this quote is offered as a direct quote from God, a quote we don’t find in the Bible, God didn’t communicate this principle in the Bible. What God asks us to do is deny ourselves, be holy, and be like His Son. I don’t see “be you” anywhere in “deny yourself.” They are not synonymous. If we pay attention to the Bible story, we’ll find that God, through various writers, says that we are to imitate His Son. And to imitate His Son is to put ourselves aside.
Because of that pivotal moment in the Garden of Eden, there is sin in the world; all humans have the capacity to sin — and we do all sin (Romans 5:12 & 3:23).
(Jesus was the only person on earth never to sin — 1 Peter 2:22 — because He was God’s Son and He had prophecies to fulfill, a literal God-sent mission to accomplish; He was devout and determined.)
Relying on ourselves in this sense makes us incredibly vulnerable to Satan’s tricks, the last thing we want to be if we’re trying to be faithful Christians. If Adam and Eve hadn’t chosen to listen to Satan (and themselves) instead of God, leading to “death spread[ing] to all men”, we probably could be us because we would be without sin! But because we do have sin, we need someone to blot it away, and that person is Jesus Christ. Because we have sin, there’s a higher expectation we should be trying to reach (see Romans 6).
Luke 9:23 says, “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
To deny yourself means to refuse to be a sinner, to refuse your earthly cravings and wishes, to not be yourself. To be holy is to be set apart, different, sanctified in Christ — not set apart because of your unique human traits, but because of your unique spiritual ones. To follow Christ means to go or strive after Him, to pay close attention and conform to Him. It means that you are no longer conforming to yourself.
Denying yourself opens to door to being something better than your human self, better than anything you could imagine.
Being a follower of Christ, both in New Testament times and modern-day, requires taking up your cross daily,as the verse states. Jesus carried his own cross down a cruel road to the spot He would take His last breath. Although we likely won’t be taking up our own physical cross anytime soon, we have a figurative cross to bear. When Jesus took up His cross, He was making a statement that He would not submit to His own fears or feelings; He was bending to the will of His Father, and denying His earthly self.
If we’re denying ourselves, we need something new to imitate, right? Jesus asks for it to be Him.
Here’s a light anecdote for you: When I was little, one of my biggest role models was Hilary Duff, especially when she was acting as Lizzie McGuire (I’m sure all my friends reading this will be either laughing, nodding their heads, or both — #totalEAmove). I had posters of her album covers on my walls, not to mention I owned all of her albums, watched every episode of her show, and I went so far as to get my haircut just like hers. You know, the layered, full-bangs style. I thought she was the absolute coolest. I liked this one TV star so much that I practically wanted to be her, so I imitated her.
As a Christian, I am not supposed to imitate Hilary Duff, but I am supposed to imitate Christ. God didn’t ask me to be her, but He does ask me to be like Christ.
This is not to say that you, as a person and a soul, are not valuable. But when you become a Christian, you choose the responsibility of reflecting Christ and shining His light and you become eternally valuable because you are now God’s child; if you truly strive, His Light and your light will become one as you bend to His will.
The point is that God values you. He values each and every person He created. He values you enough to bring you out of your sins, if you choose to accept, because He knows you’re worth more than your sins. David acknowledges in Psalm 139 that, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and He praises God for it; He recognizes that without God, He would be nothing (related post here).
God sent His Son to be a sacrifice for each and every one of us. He values our souls so much that He wants us to be with Him eternally. It’s a privilege and a relief! Because He values you this much, He asks you to be something better than yourself; He knows you can be something beautiful in Him. You don’t have to figure out who you are or where you “fit into” society when you become a Christian because you already know (and you don’t have to) — you’re a valued child of God, set apart from the world, and you’re going to be transformed one day.
The reality is that if we are fully following Christ, we shouldn’t even want to be ourselves — because what’s the point of being yourself if it’s all going to pass away? The point of becoming a Christian is recognizing that there is more to life than this life, praising the One who saves, and taking a giant step toward being transformed into something glorious in the heavenly Kingdom of God through imitating Jesus. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We should want to be just like Him and be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).
So, if you need an inspirational, faith-instilling quote, come to Jesus. If you’re looking to be truly unique, different from the world, come to Jesus. Let yourself be changed by the power of God. He never asked you to be her. He never asked you to be you. He asked you to be holy.
“…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms; I only ask that you link it back to this site. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.