Bad words, bad attitudes and bad looks are deeply engraved in our hearts, especially when they come from those we love the most.
We may remember the words our parents used to hurt us; the selfish and malicious words spewed out in anger by our spouses, teachers, or bosses at work; The words of bullying from our classmates. Words that, in some cases, we remember for life. Why do we remember them if they made us feel so bad? Precisely because they hurt us so much that we feel that they are irreparable damage.
So it's understandable that we fear hurting our loved ones like others hurt us. We especially don't want to destroy our children with our words. But in the gospel there is hope. In this article I want to remind you that we were created to represent God also with our words and that, through the gospel, this is possible for sinners like you and me.
Image Bearers of God
Each and every one of us was created as an image bearer of God (Gen 1:26-27). We are not equal to Him, since we are his creatures, but we are similar. Talking about the image of God in us is not easy, but we can mention some aspects of what it means to be bearers of his image.
We are like God in being rational; we share languages with which we can communicate with others. We are similar to God in that we have the responsibility to manage; we are stewards of all that he has placed in our hands. We are like God in being relational; we must, for example, reflect God's love towards others. The image of him in us gives us dignity and value.
Each and every one of us was created as image bearers of God. His image in us gives us dignity and value
We were created as the graphic representation of God on earth, although we no longer represent him perfectly. When God created humanity, the image of him in it was perfect, but that image was damaged and distorted when sin entered the world (Gen 3). However, we never completely lost it and God has not stopped embodying it in every human being that is born.
His image in us reminds us that we are His precious creation. This is confirmed by the incarnation of the Son, since in Christ he gave us life and redemption. For those of us who repent and receive salvation by faith, God is making us more like Christ, who is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15).
Transformed into the image of Christ
Now in Christ, in addition to being bearers of His image, we are being transformed every day to look more and more like Jesus Christ. Although we still do not represent him perfectly, there is evidence that Christ is working and perfecting the image of him in us.
Furthermore, He affirms our identity through His Word. For example, Peter says that as believers we are chosen (1 Pet 1:1), sanctified by the Spirit (1 Pet 1:2), born again (1 Pet 1:3), heirs of an incorruptible inheritance (1 Pet 1:4), protected by the power of God (1 Pet 1:5), with valuable faith (1 Pet 1:7), His rescued handmaids from our former way of life (1 Pet 1:18). We are Yours!
If we didn't know who we are in Christ, the words that hurt us would continue to define us; yet we are all that God says we are
If we didn't know now who we are in Christ, the words that hurt us would continue to define who we are; however, through his Word, we know that we are not what others say we are. We are all that God says we are. We are what Christ did for us by giving us his identity.
Evidence that we are in Christ is the renewed way in which we speak to other people, also bearers of the image of God (cf. Eph 4:22-24, 29; Stg 3:1-12); For example, our children. Are we reflecting Christ in our speech?
We know that we are still stained by sin, because we do not always reflect Christ faithfully. We don't always speak words that edify others. We don't always speak well of others in front of the Father, in front of them or in front of others. However, we are not alone in the midst of this situation.
There is hope
Let us remember that the Bible says that Christ not only redeemed us, but also intercedes for us (Ro 8:34); that is, he is speaking on our behalf before the Father. What implications does it have for our words to know that Christ intercedes for us? As image-bearers of God and redeemed in Christ to reflect his image, our words to others should also reflect that we believe Christ speaks on our behalf before the Father.
Perhaps we have also told our loved ones those words that others unleashed on us in anger. Perhaps we have damaged our children with words, being recorded in their memory. It hurts to think that what came out of our lips hurt them, instead of affirming and remembering how valuable they are to God as His creation, bearers of His image and people for whom Christ died, as well as how valuable they are to us as our children.
Let us remember that Christ not only redeemed us, but also intercedes for us (Ro 8:34); that is, he is speaking on our behalf before the Father
It hurts us when we have not been a good reflection of Christ, but even in that, there is hope for the repentant sinner. The gospel is the good news for those who do not live perfectly and recognize that they need Christ, because in themselves they cannot change or bear good fruit that lasts.
The gospel reminds us that while there is life, there is hope. It reminds us that the bad words that violated the image of God in us —similar to those we have spoken to our children—, although they hurt us and we will probably never forget them, in Christ they have been redeemed and transformed for the better. Through Christ, the image of God is being polished in us—and it will be the same with our children, if they place their trust in Him.
So, raise your face and with your knees and heart on the ground, cry out to the Father for His grace and help so that, from now on, the words you say to your children, and anyone around you, are affirmative and praise to God, who can work in them. Cry out to the Father so that the negative words that you said to them are forgiven and that his heart is established in the Word of God so that they recognize his identity in Christ.
Don't faint if you fail again. He goes to the throne of grace as many times as necessary and cries out for help and timely relief (He 4:16). In Christ there is hope, in Christ there is forgiveness, in Christ there is salvation.