Have you ever thought about how to find yourself in the Bible?
So many people these days are trying to “find themselves.” They’re trying to figure out who they are, trying to discover or create their identity. And they’re looking in lots of different directions trying to figure out who they are. If you are searching for who you are, I hope you’ll enjoy this week’s episode about how to find yourself in the Bible.
Unfortunately, all too often, most of the attempts people are making today to discover who they are, really fall short of true self-discovery, which includes their spiritual identity as a child of God.
So how do we discover our spiritual identity? How do we find ourselves spiritually? And how do we accept and live out from who we are spiritually?
That’s what we’re talking about in this week.
I believe the best way to find yourself, to discover who you really are, is in the Bible. But it takes a prayer and discernment.
The most obvious place to start is in the very first chapter of the Bible. You’ve heard this hundreds of times.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26, 27 ESV
The most important aspect of who you are is the fact that God created you in His image and likeness. I talk a lot about this on The Bible Speaks to You Podcast. There’s one episode in particular you might find helpful if you haven’t already listened to it. I’ll have that link in the show notes. It’s Episode 37: You Are the Image and Likeness of God. What the Heck Does that Mean?
What the Bible says about you
Your spiritual identity as a child of God is brought out in so many places in the Bible. Here’s one of my favorites
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:16, 17 NIV
Another episode that’s closely related to today’s episode is Episode 144: Finding Your Identity in the Bible with Keith Ferrin.
But today I’m going to take a different approach than Keith and I did. Instead of looking at the kinds of Bible verses like the one in Romans 8 , which I just mentioned, or others that Keith talks about in Episode 144, we’re going to look at various characters in the Bible and see what we can learn about ourselves from them.
How to find yourself in the Bible characters
Let’s start with Moses. There’s so much we know about his life, but I’m going to focus on one very significant incident.
Moses was trying to understand why God had chosen him to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt. He did this before and after he led them out. Moses really wanted to find favor in God’s eyes, and know that he had found favor in God’s eyes. But he really wasn’t sure if he had. He was trying to do what God told him, but there were doubts in his heart. Have you ever found yourself in that situation? So he had a conversation with God. Not a bad idea when you need some real answers to important questions.
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. Exodus 33:18, 19 NIV
Can you find yourself in Moses and the way he makes a pretty amazing request? Do you have the audacity to ask God to show you His glory? If you haven’t ever uttered those words to God in prayer, “Show me Your glory,” I encourage you to give it a try.
And be willing to receive what God reveals to you. He said He would show Moses all His goodness.
Do you see yourself in Gideon?
Now, let’s look at Gideon. This is just one slice out of Gideon’s life. Gideon is talking to the angel God sent.
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13 NIV
Do you ever find yourself feeling abandoned by God? Or you heard about wonderful things that happened in the past, that God had done for other people, maybe your parents or grandparents. But what’s happening today?
I’ve certainly found myself in Gideon asking those questions. When you read the rest of the story of Gideon, you’ll see how he got answers to those questions. And that has helped me as well.
What about his troops?
Later in the story, Gideon amasses thousands and thousands of troops, but God said, “That’s too many.” God told him to take them all down to the water. I want you to be thinking of the 300 men that Gideon finally chose. What can you find out about yourself from these men?
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” Judges 5:5-7 NIV
Can you find yourself in those men, the ones who lapped or the ones who went home?
Maybe you’re glad not to have to do a certain project when somebody else got chosen. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be jealous that somebody else got picked. You’re just going about your business.
The ones who were picked, felt special and honored. They rose to the occasion. There are all kinds of lessons we can learn from this.
Can you find yourself in David?
Now we’re going to look at King David.
What can you learn about yourself from studying the life of Kind David? There’s so much in his story of how he was faithful to God, but also how he sinned, and the struggles he had with his children. Do you relate to any part of these stories? Do you find yourself being faithful to God in the face of really challenging situations, the Goliaths of today, so to speak?
Do you ever let your emotions or your desires run away with themselves and you do things you know aren’t right.
Then you can learn the same lessons that David did. Seeing how he learned his lessons helps us learn our lessons.
Bathsheba and Uriah
And what about Bathsheba? Have you ever been minding your own business when someone who is powerful and hard to say no to, asks you, or manipulates you, or persuades you to do something you know is wrong?
And there’s her husband, Uriah.
Uriah was doing his honest best to serve the king. He was faithful to his wife and honorable. And wasn’t even an Israelite, but a Hittite. He got caught up in a power play when the king was trying to cover up his own sin of adultery.
Have you ever felt used and abused because of what someone else did wrong? They try to get rid of you, or smear your reputation because of mistakes they made?
If you find yourself in that situation, what can you learn from Uriah?
And of course, Absalom
And what about Absalom, one of David’s sons? He wanted desperately to have some power and influence but did not always find favor in his father’s eyes.
And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.” Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:4-6 NIV
Absalom took matters into his own hand and in effect rebelled against his father, the king. In fact he attempted to take over power from his father.
Do you ever find yourself thinking you could do a better job than the people who are in charge of a project at work or church or anywhere? Do you take matters into your own hands and go against their authority and try to get rid of them?
I have found myself in Absalom several times, and it’s not a very good feeling. It makes me realize I have to trust God to put me where He wants me instead of what I think I want for myself. Maybe I could, or you could, do a better job at something than what’s being done. But maybe that’s not what God wants you to do. Maybe there’s a different lesson or a different task He has in store for you.
It’s really a question of whether you’re listening to God or not.
What can you learn about yourself from the lives of David, Absalom, Bathsheba, and Uriah?
Can you see yourself in Naaman, Elisha, and the little Jewish girl?
Let’s look at the story of Elisha healing Naaman of leprosy. You can read the whole story in 2 Kings, Chapter 5.
Naaman was not just the Commander in Chief of the army of the king of Syria, or Aram as some Bibles translate it, he was a very proud man who had great power and authority. He was a man used to being in charge and giving orders. He expected to be obeyed without question. But he was desperate to be healed of leprosy and was willing to try anything.
And perhaps that was the first crack in his thick mantle of pride. He took the advice of a Jewish girl, we don’t even know her name, who had been captured and was a servant to his wife.
For this proud man to listen to and act upon what this young girl suggested is really quite extraordinary. But he did.
What can we learn from that? How can we find ourselves in this story?
Can you see yourself in this story?
Can you find yourself in the story of the young girl? Have you ever been in a position where you had something important to say, a real solution to a problem at hand, but it wasn’t your place to speak up, or you didn’t feel anyone would listen to you because you had no power or influence?
What can we learn from this little girl? To say what you need to, maybe to someone close to the person who needs the information you have. God has put you in the position you’re in, even if it doesn’t seem very important by the world’s standards, and given you the idea that will bring a solution, for a reason.
If that little girl can tell Naaman’s wife about Elisha the prophet, then you can say whatever you need to say to those who will hear it.
And then of course, there’s Elisha.
Are you ever in a position of spiritual authority when someone comes to you, as Naaman came to Elisha, full of pride and wanting everything the way they want it, and they want it now? Can you find yourself in the way Elisha dealt with Naaman? Will you have the courage to say what is needed, and not just try to please a person, or be impressed with someone’s position or power?
Can you find yourself in these two women?
Now I want to look at a couple of other very minor characters in the Bible, who give us a brief glimpse of, what some would call feminine intuition, but what I’ll call spiritual awareness or discernment.
I want you to think about these two women and ask yourself if you can find yourself in the way these two women responded to the situation at hand.
An ancient queen
The first is Belshazzar’s wife. You can read the whole story in Daniel, Chapter 5.
Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, son of Nebuchadnezzar, had made a great feast for his court. He called for the gold and silver goblets, which had been taken from the Temple in Jerusalem when it had been destroyed and captured by his father.
Belshazzar saw a hand write on the wall and was deeply troubled at this. He demanded that his wise men, soothsayers, and astrologers interpret the mysterious writing no one could read. But they could not.
Then the Queen came to the rescue.
The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners.” Daniel 5:10, 11 NIV
She was referring of course, to Daniel, who was called for and who was able to interpret the writing. It didn’t turn out to be good news for King Belshazzar, because he had seen the way his father had humbled himself to the God of Israel and then was restored to his kingdom, but he did not humble himself to God. Belshazzar was killed that night.
Do you have the spiritual intuition that can give the right information, or refer the right person, at the right time? This doesn’t apply just to women. Guys, you have this ability too. Can you see yourself in the Queen of Babylon? Don’t ever hesitate to use the spiritual gifts God has given you.
What can you learn about yourself from Pilate’s wife?
And then there’s Pilate’s wife. I’ll skip to the New Testament for just a minute because of the parallel here.
Pilate was cross questioning Jesus and received an earnest request from his wife.
While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” Matthew 27:19 NIV
Here’s a Roman woman, who most probably does not believe in the God of the Jews, sending a warning to her husband. She “knew” Jesus was innocent. How? She probably didn’t think of what happened as spiritual intuition or a spiritual message from God, but she, nevertheless, had a clear sense of Jesus’s innocence and the seriousness of the situation.
She sent someone to deliver message to her husband. Can you find yourself in Pilate’s wife? Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to convey important information, which God had revealed to you, to the person in charge? Did you do it? Did you keep it to yourself?
This is a little different from the little girl and Naaman’s wife, because the little girl had no power or authority. Pilate’s wife was in a position to have influence.
Have you ever been like Jonah?
Let’s come back to the Old Testament. There are so many Bible characters we could talk about, but let’s take a look at Jonah.
Jonah was supposed to go to Nineveh to call the city to repentance, but instead, he went the opposite direction. He flagrantly disobeyed God because he didn’t like or agree with what God appointed him to do.
But God knew where to find him. After three days in the great fish, Jonah reluctantly went to Nineveh and told everyone to repent of their evil ways. And they did! Here is Jonah, a prophet, who disobeyed God, repented, obeyed God and then was not too happy with the result. Jonah had too many personal opinions of what should or shouldn’t happen, how or how not he should obey God’s purpose for him.
Can you ever find yourself in Jonah, in the many different ways he responded to what God was asking him to do?
Sometimes we have to set aside our personal opinions and preferences and actually do what God asks us to.
What about the King of Nineveh?
And while we’re in Nineveh, let’s talk about the king of that great city. Here is a pagan king, probably completely unaware of the God of Israel, other than some general knowledge perhaps, but certainly not a worshipper of the one God. But the way he responded to Jonah’s message was absolutely beautiful.
When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.” Jonah 3:6-9 NLT
And of course, the city of Nineveh was not destroyed.
When someone tells you that you’re doing something wrong, do you listen and admit your mistake? Or do you get defensive? What can you learn about yourself from the king of Nineveh?
Do you ever identify with Elisabeth and Zacharias?
Now let’s check out a few people in the New Testament.
There are so many obvious ones we could look at, but I’ll start with Zacharias and Elizabeth. They were faithful to God, and had been for many years, even when they didn’t think their prayer for a son would ever be answered.
But when the angel Gabriel brought the news to Zechariah that he would become a father, after the initial shock, he and his wife embraced the idea and realized how important their child would be.
You can read their whole story starting in Luke, Chapter 1, beginning in verse 6.
Has God ever done the seemingly impossible in your life? How did you respond? What can you find out about yourself when you read about Zechariah and Elisabeth?
Have you ever been like Joseph?
Let’s look at Joseph, Mary’s future husband. Can you imagine how he felt when Mary told him she was going to have a baby. He was sure she had cheated on him. He must have been devastated. But God sent him an angel to explain everything in a way Joseph could understand and accept, which he did.
What can you learn about yourself from the way Joseph responded?
Which disciple are you like?
Of course we could talk about the disciples of Jesus and how we can find ourselves in them. We usually want to think we are like Peter or John, because they were closer to Jesus. Of course, we don’t want to find ourselves in Judas, who betrayed Jesus. But sometimes we might find tiny little moments where we’re not loyal to Jesus because of any number of reasons.
Which of Jesus’s disciples do you identify with? Which one do you learn about yourself from?
Do you ever see yourself in Paul?
And then there’s Saul who becomes Paul.
There’s so much in his life where we can find ourselves, find insights into what God has called us to do.
Have you had an amazing conversion experience, like Saul did on the road to Damascus? Have you ever preached to crowds of people who were eager to hear more about Jesus? Have you ever stirred up trouble and opposition when you preached the truth about Jesus, but some people didn’t want to hear your message because it challenged their deeply help personal convictions?
Have you ever suffered and been falsely accused because of your faith? Then you can easily relate to Paul. You can learn so much about who you are from studying his ministry and how he responded to what God called him to do.
These are just a few of the Bible characters that may give you insights into who you are.
Who do you see yourself in from the Bible?
I’m amazed at how many people in the Bible I see myself in. And I don’t mean that in some weird way. I just mean I can identify with the ideas and issues, the situations and circumstances they’re dealing with. And I learn about myself in the process.
You could probably take any Bible character or Bible verse and ask what you can learn about yourself from them. Are you facing the challenges these people were in your life? Have you learned the lesson their lives teach? You’ll be delighted when you explore how to find yourself in the Bible.
If there’s someone in the Bible you especially identify with and relate to, let me know. I’d love to hear who it is and what you’ve discovered about who you are from someone in the Bible. And more importantly, not just what you’ve learned about yourself, but what you’ve discerned that God has called you to do.
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Genesis 1:26, 27 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Romans 8:16, 17 NIV
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Exodus 33:18, 19 NIV
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence.
Judges 6:13 NIV
13 Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.
Judges 5:5-7 NIV
5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.”
6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”
2 Samuel 15:4-6 NIV
4 And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”
5 Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him.
6 Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
Daniel 5:10, 11 NIV
10 The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale!
11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners.
Matthew 27:19 NIV
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
Jonah 3:6-9 NLT
6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes.
7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all.
8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence.
9 Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”