Have you ever met an arrogant person? An angry one? An overly anxious person? Perhaps someone rude? I ask this about someone else first to protect you from the painful truth that sometimes, we are these people. Unfortunately, we often hold on to these negative types of encounters, both with others and within ourselves, and mistake them for “who we/they are”. This is not your genuine self’s true expression, though. This is your genuine self’s personality defense.

These defenses are not all bad and we should not expect to eliminate them entirely. They are natural and instinctual responses to stress or threats. We have these to protect ourselves. The sad part about these is when we identify with them as who we are.

  • We are not arrogant because we view ourselves as the greatest, but to protect that perhaps we are not, as we feel that is what is necessary to survive.
  • We aren’t angry because we are mean people, but because things are not what we believe they should be.
  • We aren’t anxious because we enjoy it, but because we are heightened from perceived threats.
  • We aren’t rude because we don’t like people, but because we are too self absorbed.

All of these things are magnified by a common theme: we don’t feel that we can share our true needs.

To grow from this, we must first throw off any current, negative perceptions about sharing our needs. Many people feel that sharing needs is a “weakness” and, well, weakness is “bad”. But that isn’t what the Bible teaches us. In 2 Corinthians 12:8–9, Paul teaches us: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. But he answered me, ‘My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness’. So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.” (TPT) Then, we must identify what needs these defenses are protecting.

Please don’t confuse having needs, or weaknesses, with helplessness. 2 Timothy 1:7 teaches us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” No, what I am hoping to shed light on is to allow our genuine needs to come through rather than our defenses. Our true needs come from our true gifts, which are the fruits of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22–23: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (NLT)

To piece this all together now, being genuine is having the courage and love to share our true needs. Our true needs come from our inner drive to share our gifts, which are the fruits of the spirit. So for the angry person lashing out at people because things are not the way they should be, the genuine life is about talking openly to God and others about this need. Instead of lashing out in frustration, they would share where that drive comes from, like their inner need to be “good”. In doing so, the people involved with them will know them deeper, and vice versa, as this person learns about why said person did things the way they did. As a result, self-discipline grows all around. This is how we exercise the fruits of the spirit for growth: it is in being genuine and expressive of our true needs.

“Lay aside your old Adam-self with its masquerade and disguise.” Colossians 3:9 (TPT)

Today, I encourage you to be aware of your defenses, and instead of allowing them to respond, respond from and share your genuine need. Do not hide your gift today.

This devotion originally appeared on Devotable written by Kyle Blevins

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Devotable

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Devotable is a collection of writers who create daily devotion content that uplifts believers and spreads the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.

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