Words of Grace
The problem with words of affirmation is that you can’t just make them up. Telling yourself good things to believe about you might feel good for a little while, but it usually sounds phony. Many motivational teachers use self-produced words of affirmation to move us to some change; but, if we don’t really believe those words, how can the change be real?
Real words of affirmation, those that make a difference in us, are those that come from the outside. We might still doubt the words, but we can’t control them and we are not producing them. You can tell yourself that you did a good job; but, when the boss tells you or the client tells you, that makes a difference.
It isn’t bad to affirm yourself. In fact, there may be times when you are the only one and you have to believe your words to keep going. But words of self-affirmation are most effective when they are in agreement with the words from outside.
So, when I say the words, “I am good,” it matters where I get them. If I just produce them out of my own desire to feel good, then I remember the things I regret and know the words are not true. If others say them about me, that feels better, but I still know things about myself they don’t know and I still doubt the words. But when the One who truly knows me and knows the only standards of goodness that matter, when He says I am good, that’s something I can hold onto.
Yes, sin has been a part of all our lives and we were taught that sin made us bad. That’s why we needed a Savior. But once the Savior came into our lives, He brought His goodness into us. He washed away the stain of the sins and filled us with His love and His life. We are good because He is good.
The idea of goodness is hard to apply to our lives because of what we were taught about ourselves. We feel that we must reject any affirmation of goodness in us because of what we have done. But if our goodness is not judged by what we have done, if it is judged by who He is in us, then we are truly good. Those who belong to Jesus, who are filled with His life, are good.
So Paul could say with assurance:
Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness… Romans 15:14 (NKJV)