One of the most important things that Christians need to grasp, is that we are not defined by what we do, our failures or accomplishments, we are defined by who God says we are.
We must fully appreciate our identity in Christ. We are a child of God and a coheir with Christ (Romans 8:17).
This is the issue, that Texas A&M Christian pitcher Nathan Dettmer, 20, had to deal with after being pulled in the second inning after giving up seven runs as his team fell to Oklahoma 13-8 on June 17, 2022.
If we define ourselves by what we accomplish, then we are winners or losers based on what we do. If you make a mistake, you personalize it, and you become a mistake.
After the defeat, Dettmer said it was a mental battle as he struggled with the loss, but realized that he is not defined by baseball or his accomplishments or his failures, but by who he is in Christ.
The next week, Dettmer went out and pitched seven innings of scoreless ball, allowing only three hits, as his team went to defeat Notre Dame 5-1 in an elimination game for the college world series.
In the news conference following the team’s victory, Dettmer talked about the mental struggle he had after losing the previous week.
He talked about the encouraging text he received from fellow pitcher Micah Dallas.
“He texted me that from one game, it doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define me as a person. And baseball doesn’t really define me as a person,” Dettmer said.
But equally important, Dettmer understood that his worth was not based on his failures or accomplishments, but rather on who God said he was.
“All my worth is through God. I just prayed to Him that night. And He just told me that that’s not my story. He’s got a plan for me and that one game wasn’t it,” Dettmer told reporters.
Christianity starts with identity.
When you become a believer, a remarkable transformation takes place. Not only are we born again and have the Holy Spirit living inside us, but we have also become a child of God.
But though this is true, one of the biggest struggles that believers will face is in believing who we already are.
Jesus had just come off a 40-day fast when the Holy Spirit drove the Lord into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.
The first temptation that Satan threw at Jesus was to have the Lord define Himself by what He accomplished.
3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:3 NIV)
Satan basically stated that if Jesus was the Son of God, He should prove it by turning stones into bread. It was a trap, because it meant that Jesus’ identity would be defined by what He did or accomplished.
But Jesus responded by saying that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.“
In other words, the Lord chose to define Himself solely by who God said He was.
In arguably the worst chapter break in the Bible, Jesus was referring to the words that God spoke at the Lord’s baptism in the previous chapter:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased..” (Matthew 3:17 ESV)
Jesus was the Son of God, because of what God said.
Like Jesus, we will have our good and bad days, and this has absolutely no impact on who we are in God.
If Jesus allowed His accomplishments to define Him, then the Lord was the Son of God when He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11: 38-44), and not so much when he couldn’t perform miracles at Nazareth because of their unbelief (Mark 6:5-6).
Jesus started His ministry by first coming to grips with the most important issue, His identity in God.
Similarly, the most essential thing that believers must do after becoming a Christian is to understand and believe their identity in Christ.
No matter if you fail or sin, you are a beloved child of God, because of what Christ did on the cross.
READ: ‘All my worth is through God’: Texas A&M pitcher Nathan Dettmer says he is not defined by baseball