I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately. These documentaries are not about God. They are about our society. They are about the American culture and cultures around the world. They have shown men and women degrading and devaluing their bodies for worldly possessions they think will make them feel better or look better to other people. I have been reading autobiographies written by people who have been in the spotlight finally revealing ugly truths that they hid for years with smiles and make up. I have been watching reality shows that depict people in the most worldly light you can imagine. I have been listening to the way people around me talk about themselves, and it hasn't been pretty. All of these things have opened my eyes to something very important: our self worth, where it comes from, and how it effects us.
The way we speak is very telling. What do we really think about who we are when we are being honest? Do we put ourselves down jokingly? Are we quick to dismiss a true complement? Do we strive to speak the truth in love, no matter how difficult it may be? (Ephesians 4:15)
The way we feel inside gives us an indication of how much we value ourselves. The world will call it “self esteem”. Do we love ourselves? Hate ourselves? Are we indifferent to who we are? Can we stand to be alone with ourselves? Can we be our own friend, or would we find someone that has us looking for the exit after three minutes of quality time?
The way we treat others is a reflection of our self worth. Have you ever met the person that puts everyone down: berates them, belittles them, dominates them? Chances are that person doesn't feel good about themselves and is trying, in one of the most desperate ways, to gain a false confidence. Do we treat others with humility and love, serving them in the same vein as Christ?
We who have professed faith in God are not unaffected by the negativity of this world. We have The Word, we have God's armor (Ephesians 6:10-17), we have Christ in us (John 15:3-5), and the Holy Spirit with us (John 14:26). We have protection, not immunity. Those who have not yet professed faith still have access to all of this by choosing to accept Christ and have a relationship with God the Father.
But, Friends, we still live in this world. Our self worth takes hits from multiple sides. Take just a few minutes right now and think about the ways your self worth has been affected because of this world we live in. Write them down so you see them in black and white. It's a powerful exercise and it is step one in a two part process of seeing your self worth through God's eyes, not the world's.
I did a list, too. In three minutes I was able to come up with 15 things that have damaged my self worth. Can you imagine if I had allowed myself 10 minutes? While I am a private person, I can share with you that the underlying theme of most of my list was “not good enough”. For example, no career and no college degree were on my list. Yet I am educated and I held the same high stressed job for 13 years before I left it to be a stay at home Mom. But in my head, when I am being brutally honest, when I compare myself to what this world values, that is just “not good enough”. I can hear my friends now, reassuring me and working to boost my confidence as to all the things I have accomplished; but that is not what this is about, is it? This is about what we think of ourselves in that deep dark corner of our minds and hearts, that place that only we and God hear.
Now that we have our list, we get to embark on step two of reminding ourselves of our true self worth. This is not the part where we pick up the phone and ask another person what they think of us. We will not be grabbing our purses or wallets and heading out to Target or Best Buy for the latest and greatest must have new gadget or home good. We won't be eating an entire four course meal by ourselves only to find the feeling of satisfaction can't last. Today we do what parents have been begging children to do on every playground in America: we use our words. You already know where those words come from, don't you? Please turn with me in your Bible and mark these down for those days when this world tries to chip away at your God given self worth.
(Psalm 139:13-15)For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
(Gen 1:27)So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
(1 Cor 6:19-20)Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
(1 Cor 10:13)No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
(Heb 4:15-16) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (emphasis mine)
(Romans 12:2)Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Hebrews 13:5)Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
(Philippians 4:8-9)Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Romans 12:3) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
(1 peter 3:4) (in speaking about women)Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
(Romans 5:8)But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 3:23)For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
It is in God's word that we learn about our self worth. God's word doesn’t truly point to us... it grabs our attention and points us back to God. Our self worth is found in Him.
Please use these scriptures to look back at the list you have made. Look at your list with fresh eyes and a renewed heart. See your self worth through His eyes. Don't let the world or insecurities cloud the gifts He has given you, His child. For me it is the last two scriptures above in Romans that free me. My list screams of “not good enough”. Before reading through scripture I actually came up with plans to combat that problem. I thought of ways to fix some of the things on my list. But you know what? God loved me while I was still a sinner. Christ died for me knowing I am a sinner and that I would still sin even after accepting Him. I have and will continue to fall short of the Glory of God. I cannot fix this. God fixes it, and He says so in His word. So I will let Him fix my self worth. I will give it over to Him: my self worth, my list, my plans, even my lack of trust that this can work. They are all his. I know I will have to give it to Him multiple times, as I am the kind to take things back.
Self worth is defined as ones own sense of value or worth as a person. Since I have given my personhood to my creator, then so must my self worth be given to Him. Every time I feel myself try to take it back, I have a list of scriptures to remind me why it is I have chosen to put my self worth in God's hands. This one's going to be a life long battle for me, Friends. How about you?