She meant well, I am sure.
And in some ways her message sounded really good.
It was an online devotional and the topic was our worth.
And where we find it.
Her message and mine are for the same audience – those who have chosen to say “yes” to God’s call to be a Christ-follower. If you have not done that, this devotional doesn’t apply to you.
But if you have, please keep reading.
This message is so important.
Because we get it so badly wrong most of the time.
She hit the first part of her message out of the park.
Exhorting us to not find our identity or our value in appearance, talents, or gifts.
But then she blew it.
She said that my worth, our worth, is found in how well we love and obey God.
And, oh, that sounds so good in some ways!
After all, the Bible does call us to holiness.
To right living.
And in a world – and yes, in a global Church – that is getting holiness so badly wrong, it sounds good to say, “Your value comes from how well you follow the Master.”
Jesus did say things like “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your enemies”.
And He meant every word.
Paul did exhort us to put off a whole bunch of bad stuff and to put on a whole bunch of good. (Colossians 3)
He did challenge the Church over and over again to be holy.
To deal strongly and directly with sin.
Even while loving the person sinning.
And God even says, “Be holy as I am holy.”
The standard is high – very, very high.
But here’s the thing:
Keeping God’s standard is not where I find my worth.
My value does not come from how much I love God.
Or how well I obey Him.
My value does not come from keeping the rules.
Or living righteously.
It does not come from getting it right more times than I get it wrong.
From giving unselfishly.
From loving others.
Or even from how well I love God.
YES, I should do all those things.
Strive for them.
As Paul put it to the Galatians, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”
That is NOT where I find my worth.
How well I live for God does not define my value.
The sum total of my good deeds does not give me my worth.
Even how well I obey doesn’t add to my worthiness in the eyes of God.
My value, my worth, and my worthiness have absolutely nothing to do with me.
My value is found in ONE place and one place alone.
God made me.
And then He chose me.
Sought me out.
And called me to be His kid.
He redeemed me.
And He clothed me in HIS righteousness.
Because ALL of mine is filthy rags. (Isaiah 64)
And even after.
If it is MY righteousness, mustered up from some sense of adding value, making God love me, being good enough to be His kid, then it is garbage.
My worth does not come from how I live.
How I love Him.
How much I obey.
How well I follow the rules.
My value comes from Him.
And only from Him.
He calls me Child.
And He called me those things from the moment I chose to follow Him.
They aren’t earned titles.
They were bestowed.
Not because I am good.
But because He is.
Not because of my righteousness.
But because of His.
Not because of my response.
But because of His character.
And that right there?
His choosing me…
His loving me so wholly…
So utterly without condition….
THAT drives me to want to please Him!
To love Him as He loves me.
To serve Him.
To demonstrate to Him just how awesome I know He is.
To share this unconditional, matchless grace with everyone I meet.
To bring honor to His name by my actions.
To shine His reputation by how I respond.
To love the people He loves.
To serve as Jesus served.
To make my life match the model Jesus lived.
So then my actions will become more and more like the standards set forth in the Word.
But not because I am trying to be worthy.
(I am incapable of that.)
Not because I need to earn His favor.
(I can’t do that either.)
Not because I am striving to be more fully loved by Him.
(That is impossible.)
And not because I want to please other people who love Him.
But solely out of my gratitude.
My joy in being forgiven.
Deeply and dearly loved.
The more I see God for Who He is, Who He has revealed Himself to be in Scripture, the more I realize that I am NOT holy. NOT righteous. NOT worthy of His love.
But the more I see God for Who He is, the more I realize how much He loves me.
In spite of me.
And that every good thing I have ever done or ever will do is only because of Him.
So my response is the only one that I can give – deep, heartfelt gratitude and love for Him, which is expressed by doing the things that please Him.
If you are attempting to find your worth in any other way, believe me, it won’t work.
It doesn’t matter if you are doing life your own way in rebellion against God or if you’re trying to be the very best religious follower you can be – both will leave you empty.
Your value has NOTHING to do with you.
Not your appearance.
Not your personality.
Not your actions.
Or your inactions.
Your value is astronomically high.
Because the God of the Universe calls you His own.
Because the Creator of all things calls you valuable.
Because the King of All Kings laid down His life for you.
Do you believe that?
If you do, it will change your life.
How you respond.
What you choose to do.
And not do.
But it will never change your worth.
Because you cannot be more loved than you were from the very beginning.
He loved you fully and completely before you answered His call.
He cannot love you more than He did then – and He will not love you less.
So will you live a life of love in response to His love? If you do, it will change the world!