Ecclesiastes 7:29 (The Living Bible)
And I found that though God has made men upright, each has turned away to follow his own downward road.
The above comment by King Solomon has been translated in various ways:
- God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated. (GNT)
- God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things. (MSG)
- God made people to be good, but they have found all kinds of ways to be bad. (NCV)
- God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path. (NLT)
Whichever translation you prefer, the passage might sound depressing if it weren’t so hopeful and reassuring!
The good news for us is, God made men and women to be good, true and upright, virtuous. He did not create us to be sinful and to do evil but to do good works. God designed us to be part of his perfect creation and to be fit companions for his holy and loving presence. But sin interferes. We know firsthand the terrible persuasive power of sin to twist and corrupt what God has set in place. We also know such a force is beyond anything we can control with our will alone. We need God’s help to turn us away from that “downward road.” We need his strength and we need faith to believe that our lives can indeed be turned.
Thankfully, when we choose to become followers of Christ, we don’t have to reinvent ourselves or learn how to change a bad person into a good one. We don’t modify our sin nature to conform to a Christian exterior. Instead, we begin to discard sins like fetters that have kept us bound and crippled. Maturing in Christ means releasing the person we have always been, inside our souls, before sin began to twist and reshape us. As the author of Hebrews describes a runner shedding whatever holds him back in the race God has set before him, we cast off the old crippling nature until we can stand true and upright, reflections of God’s image, ready for his work.
Each of us has that strong, beautiful potential already inside, waiting to be freed. The more we grow to resemble Christ, the more strongly we reveal God’s original handiwork in us, that unique character and soul that he longs to restore and see perfected.
FATHER, sometimes I glimpse the person you created me to be—the one who is joyful and unafraid and finely tuned to the beauty and goodness you have woven into your creation. For a moment I feel aligned with you, but then I lose it. I forget who you made me to be, and my fears and doubts and loneliness return. Help me, Father, to feel at my core not shame and ugliness but rather the beauty of being specially crafted by you with love and care and for your good purpose. Teach me to see myself as you see me and to honor who you made me to be, not because I am so special and great but because you are.
Romans 7:15; Ephesians 2:10; Hebrews 12:1-3
When are you most likely to glimpse the shining soul God created you to be?