Self-esteem. Self-worth. These words are often thrown around in society as people try to “find themselves.”
But there is only one place you’ll ever find yourself. And you won’t find it by looking at yourself.
That’s what God told the people of Israel. He compared them to a wife who left her husband for another lover. Despite God’s love for his people, despite all he had done for them, still they strayed away from him. And God asked them,
What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? (5a)
And then he said,
They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. (5b)
So many people say, “I have to find myself.” And so they seek everywhere they can to “find themselves.” Everywhere, that is, except God. They look to money, a career, a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. They look to possessions. They look to all the things that this world offers.
And that’s what the Israelites did too. God told them,
They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt…The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols. (6,8)
But in seeking the worthless idols of the world, we don’t gain self-worth. We lose it. We don’t find life. We lose it.
My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (13)
Two sins. Forsaking God, the true living water. And building our own broken cisterns that can’t support anything. How many people have tried to build cisterns based on money, possessions, power, and even relationships, only to find that they’ve been left empty. And so they cry out even more, “I need to find myself.”
But God tells us that in the end,
Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me. (19)
Why? Because we can’t find life when we’ve abandoned the source of life. Everything else will leave us disappointed. Israel tried to “find themselves” by their alliances with Egypt and Assyria and the gods they served (18). But in the end, God said,
You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria. You will also leave that place with your hands on your head, for the Lord has rejected those you trust; you will not be helped by them. (36-37)
Are you trying to find yourself? You won’t find it in yourself. You won’t find it in the things the world offers. You’ll only find it in God.
Pursue him. Everything else will leave you empty.