WHOs before DOs: when you really need to know who you are.


Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
—Galatians 5:25

How many times have we been asked to do this exercise? Especially at the new year:

  • List out your priorities as you want them to be. 

Of course we’re supposed to put God first, then family second, or wait, maybe we’re supposed to put ourselves first, but then what about our spouse, and then work is a must so where does that fit in?

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  • No matter how many times I’ve listed out my priorities it’s never revolutionized my life.

Here’s what’s revolutionized my life:

  • Understanding that it’s not knowing my primary priority that matters but knowing my primary identity.

We do what we do because we are who we are.

I love how the NIV translates Galatians 5:25 (above). Essentially Paul is saying, “Because you live by the Spirit, have been made alive by the Spirit, because your identity is a Spirit-birthed individual, live like one! Keep in step with the one who gives you life and you will have life.”

Who are we? Are we primarily Americans? Republicans? Democrats? Wives? Teachers? SAHMs? No, we are children of the Most High God, chosen and redeemed, set free from sin and alive to God, called according to His purpose that we would walk in good works every single day of our lives, bringing Him glory, delighting in His goodness, displaying His power to a lost world hungering for hope.  We’re servants, we’re worshipers, we’re family, we’re learners, we’re missionaries. We are, first and foremost, disciples of Jesus Christ.

What if I look at my to-do list with that in mind? Keeping in mind that everything that I do I do as a disciple of Jesus Christ, called to fulfill His great commission and be His ambassador here on earth?

Nowhere in Scripture are we called to find balance. Our notion of “finding balance” is cultural. Christ calls us to take our whole life — work, play, service, both sacred and secular — and drench it in the water of His Spirit so that as we move about this world we’re soaking wet, dripping all over the world, spreading the gospel not because we’re handing out tracts but because we’re handing out hope. We’re kind, patient, loving, gentle … our life displays the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).

What is our identity? Are we citizens of earth or citizens of heaven? Our identity determines how we live. (Priorities can only order parts of our lives, but they fail to define living.) Who we think we are leads to what we do. On the one hand, we can walk in step with the world, running to keep up with the passing pleasures of each new year, or on the other hand, we can walk in step with the spirit, knowing that in His presence is fullness of joy. In His light we see light.

Today, consider how your primary identity shapes all you will do this day. How are you living as a follower of Jesus today? If He says you are one of His, this changes everything.