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The Three Stages of Self
by Norman P. Grubb

We have, in fact, to pass through three phases in our attitude towards and understanding of ourselves. We start life by a false attempt at self-appreciation. We try to make out we are all right: "going about to establish our own righteousness", the Bible calls it. That finishes when we become honest about ourselves in the sight of God, and our repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ is an end to our false self-appreciation.

This is followed by often a long period of self-depreciation. As new-born Christians, we are making the discovery that it is not in redeemed self, any more than it was in unredeemed self, to be what we should be. So we are much more conscious of our failings, our inadequate human selves, than we are of Christ in us. We condemn ourselves, we stress our weaknesses, we speak of our hunger and need, our inadequate love for God, our sins. We say that if God does anything with our lives, it is in spite of us (whereas in fact it is because of us), and so forth. This is the phase of temporary self-depreciation, necessary for us to learn the truth about ourselves, but only temporary.

The third and final phase is rightful self-appreciation. From false self-appreciation, through temporary self-depreciation, to true self-appreciation. This is when in the union we have found for ever we are only the vessels that contain God; but we are vessels, and more, we are vessels who are really persons; and our humanity is now the self-expression of the Living God. We are the light of the world. We are the eternal love in action. The center of our inner consciousness has moved over from self-depreciation to God-appreciation and thus to self-appreciation. It is a significant proof that we have not life yet in gear, we have not yet come full circle, when our normal reactions in situations are to emphasize our weakness and need rather than our ability.

"I can do all things," said Paul. "We are more than conquerors," said Paul again. "We are well able to overcome it," said Caleb. "I am full of power," said Micah. But in each case they added that it was "through Christ", or "by the Spirit of the Lord", or some such statement. However, the primary emphasis was not on Him in them, but on themselves, and they "able ministers of the new covenant"-through Him. Their emphasis was not on their weakness but on their strength-by Him. This is the true self-affirmation.

taken from The Spontaneous You by Norman Grubb