Our family has been talking a lot about value lately. It’s an important concept, and something I struggle with at times. Even thinking about the possibility of someone being angry or disapproving of me brings up the kind of dread that takes away your breath. The idea that someone doesn’t like me oftentimes plays into my messed-up conception of what my value is. Likewise, many of our struggles come from our lack of belief in our value. Depression because we will “never be good enough”, guilt when we ask ourselves “why am I like this?”, anger because our fellow brethren have the “audacity to offend us and our sense of self-righteousness” come and go, and we sit there and chalk it up to randomness or even worse, unwinnable.
Yet we know the Bible says a lot about our value. Psalms 139:14 says “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” In addition to being “created in (God’s) own image” (Genesis 1:27), we can be rest assured that we were not only created by God, but that God created us because He wanted us. Everything about us was designed by His hand, and He knew our story before it even happened. He loves us. That is where our value comes from. Not from our achievements, our strengths or weaknesses, not anything that we do. It is completely separate from our actions. Yet one thing that many of us struggle with when it comes to emotions are feelings of inadequacy or flaws, yet we were created in His image. We screw up, and we fall into this pit of despair. While God commands obedience from His children, we can find comfort in the fact that God doesn’t love us less when we sin. Rather, we can embrace our struggle in order that we grow as believers and servants of God. Instead of turning ourselves into victims, we can be resolved to “go and sin no more”.
There’s a lot of responsibility and conviction from this truth. After all, believing that God “shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) means that there’s nothing outside of God that can give you what you need. No person, thing, or place, no vice or activity could ever fulfill the desires of your heart, only God. Yet oftentimes, we find ourselves taking from others. When we insult someone, we take away their confidence and pleasure in order to satisfy our own. When we manipulate, we strive to gain something for ourselves instead of freely giving to others. When we glorify ourselves, we take the spotlight from someone else. What’s worse is that we often become addicted to this egotistic behavior, because sin doesn’t satisfy our fleshly desires.
Yet when asked, Jesus said that the greatest commandments of the law are: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37) God commands us to love others as much as we love Him. In fact, you can’t love God and not love other people. You must have both. Moreover, Pa defines narcissism as “the belief that God hasn’t made you enough.” When we take from people, whether that be physically or emotionally or even spiritually, we don’t believe that God can provide all that we need. Believing that not only can He, that He will, and that it is His glory and it is His to give, then resentment for perceived inequalities goes away. After all, how can you be mad at someone for taking something that isn’t even yours? We see many examples in the Bible where not only were people rewarded for giving freely, but they were happier.
For me, the lack of control over my destiny is the battle I have to face in terms of trusting God is my biggest downfall in this. As someone who likes to plan my future, putting aside my desires in order to seek God’s will is one of the biggest things that keeps me from realizing my purpose. I find myself trying to own my possessions, my career, my relationships, and even my victories, but in the unwinnable battle of trying to go against God’s tide, I am the most unhappy. When I cannot control what God controls, I am the most stressed. Yet what is there to be stressed, for “yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.” (Psalms 23:3)
It’s a liberating truth, and a huge step towards true contentment. When you feel depressed, fearful, or angry, rest in the fact that God isn’t a God of emotions. They aren’t reality. God’s reality is that you alone aren’t worthy. Yet God paid the price so that you could be joint-heirs with Christ Jesus. He died so that you could forever experience the presence of God. He will never leave us nor forsake us, so we have no need for loneliness. God will keep us in perfect peace, so there’s no need for stress. All of this is more than enough to prove to you that you are valuable. And if you are valuable, then so is everyone else.
So let’s start treating our brethren like they are. Pa gave us a challenge of picking something that we would like to receive, and then giving that to other people. Mine is comfort and encouragement. How are you going to give to others?