The following was a discussion question regarding prevalent myths in our culture today and how they hinder a person’s search for significance. These are not original thoughts, but, I feel that they are important enough to share with you!
Referring to Chris Thurmans’s book Self Destruction, Dr. Hindson describes six very common myths that our culture has about the nature of Human Beings. These myths are destructive because they are each contradictory or the opposite of the truth where freedom and significance are found. I personally believe that this is no surprise since the father of lies has been using the same tactics since the Garden of Eden. What the world (and the enemy) whispers into the ears (minds) of people promises freedom, direction, and significance, but in the end leads to bondage and entrapment.
These six myths are as follows: (1) people are basically good; (2) people need more self-worth; (3) people cannot love others unless they love themselves; (4) we should never judge anyone else; (5) we must think positively; and (6) the key to relationships is staying in love. The following paragraphs describe why each statement is false and why it hinders the search for significance as well as how a corrected understanding of the truth can help individuals begin to find significance.
It should be evident from looking at history alone that people are not basically good. If let alone in the perfect environment with all the necessities of a healthy life, people are still corrupt. Jealousy, envy, and so many more negative emotions and realities will still arise. Genesis 3 explains to us that people are corrupt (fallen). Men and women do not think, feel, act, or say the correct things many times because we have a fallen nature – what the epistles often refer to as the “flesh.” For this reason, it is important for a counselor and counselee to understand that, left to themselves, without the intervention and power of the Holy Spirit, the individual is unable to sustain righteousness – for the standard is not found in comparing ourselves to other people but rather in comparing ourselves to a holy and just God. For a person to find significance in their existence, he or she needs to look at the value that God has placed on their life and person, not on their own intrinsic worth. Without God’s purpose and plan for the person, people are “bent” toward evil (the absence of good).
Likewise, the world (and especially public education) is touting the value of self-worth and healthy self-esteem. It is said that if a person has a healthy self-esteem, they won’t have trouble dealing with the issues and troubles that people face in daily life. The only problem with this is that it is the opposite of the truth. In Ezekiel 28:11-19, we are told how Lucifer became the accuser (ha-Satan) and was cast out from God’s presence. We are told that the devil basically became “full of himself.” He wanted to receive the worship and glory that belong to God alone. In Genesis 3 we are told that the devil (through the serpent) tempted Adam and Eve with distrust in God’s goodness and His word and, more directly, with the promise of being like God. Ever since the fall, the one thing that keeps people from finding significance (which can only be found in God and his purposes for your life) – is that they are separated from God because of their overabundance of themselves! It is not until the person “dies” to their self and surrenders their self to their creator and redeemer that true significance can be discovered.
I use to really believe that it was impossible to love others unless you loved yourself because of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:39. But, as Hindson and Thurman point out, the love that is being mentioned here is a self-less and God-centered love (agape) not the selfish or even other person-centered loves of eros or phileo. Once a person understands the depth and breadth of the love that God has for them and for every person, he or she can be God’s vessel to express God’s love to others. A person’s significance isn’t found in “what can you do for me” or “what will I get in return for my efforts?” Rather, a person’s worth and significance are found in the relationships where the person’s motive and intent is “how can I express the wondrous love of God for you and me through the way that I encounter you and treat you?”
Two more prevalent myths are “don’t judge others” and “be positive.” People are admonished to be positive and not judge other people – “to live and let live.” The problem with this philosophy is that it is impossible for an individual to have honest relationships with others while denying the truth of situations and circumstances. Jesus did not say to “not” judge (evaluate) peoples actions, words, and behaviors; he was saying that only God can know what is in the heart of another person and only God has the purview and right to judge a person’s heart (their soul). On the contrary, in the whole volume of the Lord’s teaching we find that we are very much to evaluate the behavior of ourselves first and then those around us. It should be no surprise that if a person is faithful in making this type of evaluation, then there will be many times that the situation or circumstance is not a positive one. However, Christ walks with us through the “bad” times and the negative truths about ourselves and others. A person may not truly be capable of finding or moving toward significance until they face some very negative evaluations of their selves.
Lastly, we are told that the key to good relationships is to stay in love. The Beatles are famous for their song “All you need is love.” But, as I have already stated above, love can be a very selfish and self-centered “thing.” It is true that the key to healthy relationships is love — God’s love (agape love). The kind of love that is unconditional and values each person for their intrinsic worth as a creation of God who has been created Imago Dei. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8 & 16) Because God is love, he loves us more than we can know and fully describe. When we see others as God’s special object of his pure and holy desire, then we will understand (as much as we can in this life) the value that God places on others (and ourselves). To value and hold dear someone in the manner in which God does — that is love, and that is where we also find our individual sense of significance; in that God also desires us in the same manner.
I end with the quote in our lesson from John Calvin, “First you must know God before you can know yourself.”

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