Try this from the negative. I can remember in school when math class came along. Math has always been my poorest subject. Often when I made a mistake, I muttered to myself, “You dummy.” Throughout life I have tended to do that when I’ve done something that common sense or a little foresight could have prevented. I’ve said to myself, “You stupid jerk.” That didn’t help my self-image. Nor did it help my effectiveness with Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul exhorts in Philippians 4:8 to think on good things. One thing we can think on is the good things we say about ourselves. We can do this because we realize we have not given ourselves goodness, but we have derived our value through the love of God and through the gifts of the Holy Spirit which operate in our lives.

Let’s start complimenting ourselves. We know our strong points, so let’s acknowledge them. “Cec,” I can say, “you write well.”

I’m convinced that we believe the words we hear. Why not look at ourselves every morning in the mirror and say out loud, “I’m a winner.” Or, “I’m a good worker.” Or, “I have a lovely smile.” Or, “I’m bright and articulate.” One day we’ll believe our own words—and they’re true, too!

One characteristic of winners is that we know that we are of value to ourselves, to God, and to the world. Let’s think about the admirable qualities in our lives. We have them because we’re winners and because we try to follow Jesus Christ and want to be more like Him.

When we read the Gospels, we notice the way Jesus talked about Himself. He never made put-down pronouncements about Himself. He knew who He was. Jesus was a winner!

God, thank You for making me a winner. Thank You that I am a person. You’ve made me into a winner and I thank You. Amen.

A New Me Coming
But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. --Galatians 5:22-23, TEV

On three different occasions in my life friends have said something like this: “You’re different, Cec. You’ve changed.”

Joanne said it the first time. I was in the military service and had been a Christian only a few months. Even though I had said nothing to her, my co-worker, about my faith (I hardly knew how to talk about my experience), she recognized a change in me.

Jerry and I were classmates in seminary. Eight years after seminary, we were both pastors and Jerry visited me. During our conversation I remember he cocked his head slightly and looked at me. “You’re different. You’ve changed, and I like what I see.”

A third occasion happened a few months ago. I was visiting relatives that I had not seen for two years. One of my nieces, a lovely Christian girl, said to me, “I’ve always loved you, Uncle Cec, and I’ve thought of you as a good Christian. But you’ve changed, and now I like you even more.”

I have changed! I’m going to keep on changing. None of us is going to stay the same. We’re going to get better or worse. The choice is ours.

I visited an office a few months ago. The man had a sign printed behind him which said:
  
You are not the same person that you were yesterday.

I asked him about it and he said to me, “It’s my way of reminding myself that I am not only changing—I can assist in that change. I can improve myself and I can build confidence. I can become a better Christian.”

We have the power to choose. We can change for the better. As Christians, we change not by our own strength, but by our willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to help us.

The Apostle Paul in Galatians says there’s a war going on in every one of us. He calls it the war of the flesh against the Spirit. The flesh, as defined by Paul, is our old nature, the part of us that constantly rebels against God. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit with whom our Spirit should cooperate. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that God is trying to perfect us, and he mentions nine types of fruit growing in us. This is the work of the Spirit. As we give ourselves to Him, the Spirit matures this fruit in us.