Be Yourself — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Be Yourself — Morning Devotions

Why don’t we spend more time looking at our potential instead of our limitations? Too many of us think we’re not good enough.

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.

By Chris WittsMonday 14 Dec 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes

Pope John XXIII was one of the greatest loved religious leaders of the 20th century. There was no pretence from this man—everywhere he went around the world people warmed to him.

He never pretended to be more than he was. Despite being the supreme leader of the Catholic church at that time, he spoke freely. He was himself. He struggled with his weight, and was the son of a poor peasant family. We learn in his journals that he never felt he was quite holy enough; he felt that he wasn’t quite living up to his faith. We meet a man of great humility, delighted at how well people liked him and surprised that he’d been chosen for the papacy.

Soon after he was elected Pope, he went to visit a large jail in Rome. As he was giving the prisoners his blessing, he said that the last time he had been in jail was to visit his cousin. He wasn’t afraid to admit that. Another day the Pope was at a party when a woman wearing a low-cut dress walked in. Later on, the Pope said: “One of the hard things about being Pope is that if a woman like that walks into a party, everybody looks at her. If I’m at a party and a woman like that walks in, everybody looks at me”.

His death from cancer in 1963 had a strong impact on people everywhere—believers and nonbelievers alike. Throughout the world, everyone mourned. The prisoners at Rome’s Regina Coeli prison, where he had visited on his first Christmas in the Vatican, sent John this message: “With an immense love, we are close to you.”

Be Open to People

It’s an amazing fact that when we openly share with people, they will warm to us. No-one feels comfortable with a make-believe. Why aren’t we prepared to be open and honest with others? Why do we put on a false front ? Perhaps we fear no-one will like us, or they will reject us—and rejection is the hardest pain to bear.

I guess the big question is: are you prepared to be vulnerable? Most people abhor the ideal of humility and/or simplicity simply because it does not fit in with today’s lifestyle. They respect members of religious orders who can, and often do, live a life of simplicity and humility, but for themselves the people who are not in religious life find all this counter-cultural.

CS Lewis said:

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To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

It’s a risky business when you allow yourself to love and care for others. You could be misunderstood or judged wrongly—but what’s the alternative? Do you want to be like a closed book that’s never opened?

Focus on Your Potential

Why don’t we spend more time looking at our potential instead of our limitations? Too many of us think we’re not good enough. We’d be better off if we were different. Not so. Actress Helen Hayes was told early in her career that if she were four-inches taller she’d be the greatest actress of her time. Her coaches tried various methods of stretching her, but nothing increased her height. She refused to concentrate on the supposed limitation of being five-feet-tall and decided to concentrate on her potential. As a result, she was eventually cast as Mary, Queen of Scotland, one of the tallest queens who ever lived.

Pope John XXIII was a humble man who knew his limitations, and yet tried to live for God, the church, and others. He knew what the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians:

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (Philippians 2:5-8 MSG)