Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
Many years ago, in another life, I sat in a restaurant with three of four of my co-workers, all fairly equal in the hierarchy of our workplace, when the discussion somehow turned to how others might perceive our work, more specifically, our work ethic. Some misguided soul decided that we should engage in an exercise in which each of us would submit to a critique by the others. The exercise provided that each of us would be brutally honest in stating how the person in review was perceived by others. This produced some interesting and thought-provoking results, but let me say, it is an exercise I am not now recommending. For, those doing the critiquing often took very seriously the word, “brutal”.
Now, an honest self-examination is valuable, not so much as to discern what others think about us, but to ask, “What am I doing to honor God?” and perhaps, more importantly, “Am I doing anything to bring dishonor to Christ or to others?” Yet, the topic of self-worth remains a concern for many, especially to someone dealing with low self-esteem. Counselors will often coach such a client as to how they can learn to love themselves.
However, such efforts often fall short because our self-worth does not come from self, but from God. We are told this right at the beginning of Scripture when God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) This means we have no image other than that given by God and as is stated, it is a true reflection of His image. In Ps. 139: 14, we further hear; “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”
When we speak of loving ourselves, we have to be careful. There are two dimensions to such love. There is the love that is conceited, prideful, and arrogant, which is sin. And then there is a natural love stemming from our knowledge of who we are in Christ, and being thankful for all that God has made in us. This second dimension of love is one rising out of humility, acknowledging that God made us the way He wanted us to be and has given us gifts specific to our life and purpose. Ours is to acknowledge those gifts, and commit ourselves to using them in the manner He has chosen.
I can give testimony to one who spent many years working in industry trying to find my self-worth in the praises of my peers and my bosses. And I can look back and believe that I mostly achieved good marks. Yet none of these satisfied, nothing could convince me that what I was doing was truly worthwhile, until I received the call of Christ on my life and committed it to serving Him. To the world, the choice I made to leave the corporate world in favor of dedicated service to God, may seem foolish. Yet it is here that I have found the peace that passes understanding; that in which I no longer have to ask, “What is this all about?”
Perhaps, no other verse of scripture demonstrates the truth of how God sees us, and affirms our value to Him and to the world, more than that which has become one of the most familiar and oft-quoted verses of scripture. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
This means you! You are one God so loved that He willingly gave up His life to preserve. You are the one He established as being worthy in Christ.
NEVER GIVE ANYONE ELSE AUTHORITY OVER YOUR SELF-WORTH.
You belong to Christ and to Him, only.