Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Take one look at TV and it's clear that life at its best is reserved for beautiful people. Now, many assess their value based on how they look. This distorted view of self is damaging, especially to young people. So how do we counteract it?
Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, entire industries exist to make people look good, both men and women. To combat this is a tall order, isn't it? Dave, I want every parent who is listening to hear me when I say this, that we're living at a time when young women especially are attempting to live up to unrealistic standards of beauty. And you're absolutely right that television, social media puts that out there and young women are attempting to compete. Is it any wonder that so many of them are struggling with depression? A good percentage contemplates suicide.
There's a sense of hopelessness in our society. In a book I've written entitled Who Are You to Judge? Learning to distinguish between truths and half-truths and lies, I have a chapter entitled When You Judge Appearance. And then I go on to discuss the relationship between beauty and happiness and point out that if you look at beauty and think that it's going to bring happiness, you'll soon be disappointed. It is so critical for us to be able to make these kinds of judgments today and that's why we're making this book available to you. I think it'll be of tremendous help. Of course, it also discusses issues of doctrine, issues that have to do with miracles. The book is entitled Who Are You to Judge?
And for a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
That's rtwoffer.com or you can pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. From my heart to yours today, we're living in a very confused world and we need to be able to distinguish between truths, half-truths and lies. Let's listen carefully.
Well, I have to ask a question. How beautiful do you have to be to be happy? Or to put it in a different way, how attractive do you have to be before you can feel good about yourself? America is giving an answer to that.
Isn't this country doing that? It's giving an answer and the answer is the more beautiful you are, the more potential you have, the more acceptance you'll receive, the more possibility of a promotion, the more possibility of marriage. And if you are not blessed with a gift of beauty, we'll feel sorry for you, but you're kind of on the scrap heap of humanity.
Listen to one woman. Nobody noticed my accomplishments until I had cosmetic surgery. Now I'm finally getting the recognition I deserve and the promotion. Or another, something fundamentally about me had to be changed. My chin, my nose had to be shortened.
My eyelids, I've had 30 surgeries and finally I'm getting noticed. What's going on in today's culture? Well, first of all, we should not be surprised that a nation that is obsessed with sexuality would eventually become obsessed with a human body, with a cult of the human body. In fact, your value, especially during adolescence, your value is essentially determined by the way in which you look. If you don't have the body of Jennifer Lopez or Britney Spears or Brad Pitt, too bad, because you're going to be condemned to shame and humiliation.
It's no secret that you have to be beautiful in order to win the Miss America contest or to compete or to be a cheerleader. Beauty is, according to James Dobson, the gold coin of human worth. And those who are blessed by it, get all the breaks. I mean, this has been proven many, many times. Children who are cute and who are, who have that good looks, they are the ones who are given the benefit of a doubt.
They're given more opportunities than the rest of us who are rather ordinary and somewhere else on that scale. So if your curves have turned to angles and if you don't have a cute face, too bad for you, you really just don't rate. Could I take a moment to read what Chuck Swindoll wrote about the adolescent girl? Each tiny zit assures her that leprosy is just around the corner. And clothes? We're talking about a daily nervous breakdown and she's got this body that won't make up its mind. Plus the kids at school and the commercials on the tube and the magazines in the rack all team up in some kind of a secret conspiracy that convinces your once easygoing lass that she is horribly overweight, ugly beyond belief and hopelessly condemned to a life of embarrassment.
And isn't that the way in which it is? As a result of this, billions is being spent on cosmetic surgery. There are dieting programs and it's okay to diet. God knows that we need to diet because of the need for weight loss and the rest, but oftentimes it is only so that you get the right body, so that you get the right attention.
And then we have what James Dobson has called an epidemic of inferiority. And so since significance is limited to a few, those who are blessed with the gift of beauty and attractiveness, people are so desperate, young people especially, but let's not limit it to them, that they get into all kinds of regimen opportunities to try to say, I will measure up. So you have eating disorders. I wish I could say more about them, but I can't because of the message. I just simply want to say that 7 million young teenage girls, 7 million struggle with some kind of an eating disorder.
Like one person says, they are thirsty in the rain, surrounded by food. They're determined they are not going to eat because they are going to be thin and having chosen to be thin, they have decided that they will even be thinner than people expect them to be until this begins to take on a life of their own. And they eventually in some instances die to be thin and actually starve themselves to death, looking in the mirror thinking that they are overweight.
This past weekend, someone who works in a Christian college told me that a young woman got on the internet and found out how to commit suicide, got into the car and committed suicide and left a number of suicide notes. And the bottom line was, I can't measure up. No matter what I do, the bar is always higher. There's always somebody more pretty than I am. There's always somebody more popular than I am.
I simply cannot measure up. Then we have not only eating disorders, but we have body piercing tattoos. You know, women have always worn earrings. Even in the Old Testament, women wore earrings.
And I'm sure that that's fine. But today, on the news, a couple of days ago, I heard that somebody wants to win the Guinness Book of World Records or be in it, received, what was it? I was in bed when the radio came on and I heard it, so my wife and I disagree as to the number, but I think it was something like 165 body piercings in one sitting. What's going on here, this tattoo business, by the way, and the body piercings? People are screaming, notice me. In some instances, it is rebellion.
I realize that. But what they're saying is, this is my body, to quote someone, this is my body. I can do with it as I wish. Well, I sure want to explode that myth in this message today. How unfair it is that we should judge people by their appearance and act as if those who had nothing to do with the fact that they are particularly good looking, that they should be blessed, that they should be given the opportunities while everyone else is condemned and destroyed because of circumstances over which they had no control. And I'll tell you something, there is nothing like inferiority on this point to strike a blow to self-respect and the self-loathing that comes destroys people and is destroying this generation. A strong statement, but I believe it to be true. And by the way, for those of you who were blessed with the gift of beauty, do you think that that was an advantage?
In some respects, absolutely yes, because you walk through doors that nobody else could walk through. But in the other hand, it could be a very great negative, particularly young women who are very attractive. And you've got all these boys who want to date them oftentimes with motives that are not exactly holy. You understand I'm sometimes given to understatement. And so they have to put up with these temptations.
They have to put up with people hitting on them. One day I was preaching at a Bible college and I was commenting on this point and I said, I believe because of the emphasis in today's society that beauty is a curse. Later on, I heard that one young lady walked into her room and said, if it is a curse, may God smite me with it and may I never recover. Why am I speaking on this topic in a series of messages on discernment, on the general topic, who are you to judge? Do you remember in the first message when I pointed out that one of the goals was to make sure that we do not imbibe the same values as the world? That we are not to be caught up with the standards of this world, that we must understand what we believe and we must hold fast that which is good.
That's one of the reasons because I see this as such an important issue in society. We must declare war on this idea that you are judged according to your appearance. We must declare war as a church.
We must declare war as families because, listen up parents, your children or your grandchildren are being destroyed by that philosophy which is taught a hundred different ways. It's even taught in nursery rhymes, mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?
Well, who is the fairest? It's taught in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Oh, a little innocent little poem, but you remember that he was not allowed to join any reindeer games.
Why? He was different. Until he was able to do something so wonderful and so supernatural, now Rudolph will accept you with your eccentricities because of look at what you have done. All of that is seeping into society. All the magazines, all the television programs, all of the peer pressure say the same thing. Beauty is the gold coin of human worth and woe to those who do not have it. Now, what I'm going to do in this message is to give you a biblical philosophy of the body and I do need to say that because it is, I believe, a biblical philosophy, if this message were taken seriously, it could take care of the problem for those of us who are listening to it. But I'm not so naive as to think that it will because the fact is that there is something within us that craves that significance, that craves acceptance and says my body must meet certain standards and if not, I am inferior. Now, I do want to explode that myth, so you pray that God will give me the grace to do it as we look in His Word.
Three very important propositions, statements that will help us. Number one, God created your body. God created your body. Now, I want you to listen to what God's Word says about this. It says, for example, in the book of Isaiah and I will simply read the text to you, if I can find it here. This is what the Lord says, your Redeemer who formed you in the womb. I am the Lord who has made all things. God was there when you were formed in the womb.
Again, I'm reading from Isaiah, listen to me, you islands, hear this, you distant nations. Before I was born, the Lord called me. From my birth, He has made mention of my name. By the way, do you like the name that you have?
Many people want to change their name because some of us don't think that our parents made a very good wise choice when they named us what they did. Well, of course, God knew what we were going to be named and the Bible says, before I was born, He called me by name. And then that very famous passage in Psalm 139, most of us know it by memory. I'm looking at it at verse 13. Psalm 139 verse 13, for you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
That's a reference to his mother's womb. Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. I want you to know that as you were being formed, God formed you and created you and chose for you who you would be and what you would look like. But now what I want us to do is to look at the implications.
Let's look at the implications. There are certain things that could be called unchangeables that God gave us in the process of having created us in our mother's womb. What are those unchangeables as Bill Gothard calls them?
First of all, the features of your body, the color of your eyes, your height, the shape of your face. All of these things were a part of God's construction process. Yes, all of this was was made by God. Now, of course, there are things that we can change and I'm not opposed to that. We can improve what God decided to give us. But at the end of the day, the fundamental reality is he chose that for us. There was an ad in the newspaper that said, I guess it was for eyeliner or something like that.
Please don't nail me down too exactly. But its bottom line was, let us give you the eyes that you should have been born with. What do you mean the eyes that you should have been born with? It is God who chose the color of your eyes. And even someone I knew when I was growing up who had one brown eye and one blue eye, God chose those for him too.
Can you accept that? First of all, the features of your body. Secondly, the color of your body was chosen by God. Here I'm talking about your racial mix.
Now, hear me very carefully when I say this. If you do not accept your racial background as a gift of God, either you will have this great sense of inferiority or else a sense of anger and superiority as you try to get even with others and as you try to affirm your significance in other ways. So I need to say this very loudly that your racial background and your racial mix is a gift given to you by God. Are you content with that?
Can you accept that? Another implication, of course, is that gender. Gender was determined by God, whether you are male or female. And I need to say it out loud, I suppose, that those who have sex operations going from female to male or vice versa, I believe, are rebelling against the God who created them. And that's why, in the Old Testament, it says very clearly that even cross-dressing is prohibited because God did not want the blurring of the genders. And if God created you, you say, yes, but I've always wanted to be a man. God wants you to be content having created you as a woman or having created you as a man.
Let me give you another one. The limitations, the disabilities that you have, they're a God thing. Moses stuttered. He wasn't very good at speech.
And that was one of the reasons he didn't want to become the leader of the people. He says, give it to somebody who can talk better than I can. And God says in chapter 4, verse 11, I've often pondered this verse.
Wow, it takes your breath away. Who have made man's mouth, or who makes the dumb or the deaf or the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the Lord, your physical disabilities? Now, of course, if they can be improved, if there are things that medical science can do, that's perfectly fine. That's the way in which we operate in our world, knowing the fallenness of our experience.
But at the same time, what we must do is to recognize and to see God in them. This past week, I read a story about a boy who was born with a birthmark that basically covered most of his face. And it did not bother him.
He did not seem to be concerned about it at all. And somebody asked him how he handled it. And he said, well, as soon as I was old enough to see it, he said, my father always said that I was given that birthmark because that's where an angel kissed me, and that I have been kissed by an angel, and that God gave me this birthmark, he said, so that my father could always pick me out in a crowd. Now, technically, of course, an angel didn't kiss him.
But the idea is thoroughly biblical. This child must be able to accept this as a God thing. You say, well, that's hard to accept because he's going to have kids in school make fun of him. He's going to be discouraged because he's going to be rejected. He's going to experience it.
Yes, yes, yes. But that's where the parents come in and affirm the child and help him to understand that he is loved by God and that his form was created by the Almighty. And God was there in the womb. What pressure that takes off from people. Your mental capacities. Again, this can be changed.
We can improve it. But, folks, just let's talk more plainly than I've been talking a few moments ago, possibly, and simply say that some of us are never going to be geniuses. We're never going to be able to have the brains and the ability and the giftedness of others. So if we begin to compare ourselves with others, we're in bad shape. Of course, we do all that we can to try to make ourselves look as good as we can, given our limitations. But we accept those limitations as from God's hand because we know that he is the creator and our father.
What an opportunity to be free. My friend, we're living at a time when we have to battle the cult of beauty. Blessed is the teenager who can look into the mirror and say with a sense of confidence and satisfaction, Lord, I'm glad you made me the way I am. Now, all of us try to beautify our appearance. I understand that.
But the raw material has been given to us by God. And I have a tremendous burden for young people, and I'm sure you do too, that they might be content with who God made them. I've written a book entitled Who Are You to Judge? Learning to distinguish between truths, half-truths, and lies. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this program, one of the chapters has to do with appearance.
It has to do with the cult of beauty, helping people to understand that beauty does not lead to happiness. It is really false advertising, and we are up against a world that is committed to deceive us. My friend today, I think that this book will be of tremendous help to you for a gift of any amount it can be yours.
It's entitled Who Are You to Judge? Learning to distinguish between truths, half-truths, and lies. I hope that you have a pencil handy, because in a moment I'm going to be giving you some info by which you can contact us. And I want to thank you in advance for helping us. The Ministry of Running to Win continues around the world.
You've heard me say it before, 20 different countries, four different languages, and we're hoping to expand. You want to connect? Here's what you can do. Go to rtwofferer.com. Of course, as you might know, rtwofferer is all one word, rtwofferer.com, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. No matter where I go when I have the opportunity to travel, I always meet people who are blessed as a result of this ministry, and your investment helps us to bless them. Thanks in advance.
Once again, rtwofferer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The title of the book, Who Are You to Judge? Learning to distinguish between truths, half-truths, and lies. In a confused world, we believe that this resource will be of tremendous help to you and to all who read it.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 1414. Many people don't accept themselves as clay on the potter's wheel of God. They become slaves to their peers who value appearances.
But you can see yourself as a unique creation of God and then live in freedom. To find out how, join us for our next program. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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