It seems like everywhere I look, I see inspiring phrases like, “You are worthy,” and “You are so worth loving.”
It’s nearly become a trend on the internet, especially in the Christian corner of the web.
When I first read it, I love it! It gives me a warm fuzzy inside. And then I look at my life and everything that makes me feel unworthy and the warm fuzzies quickly become cold prickles.
While the sentiment behind those messages is well-meaning, I think we have such a hard time believing it for a reason.
Before I say the following, I want to acknowledge that I know what I’m about to say is not necessarily true for all. There are many who have been abandoned or neglected, hurt or abused, and therefore, feel worthless as a result of how they’ve been treated.
If that’s you, friend, can I just take your hand and whisper a dare to read on? To see that maybe the gift isn’t in what you’ve been told but in how you’ve been held through it all? Keep reading, I dare you.
For many of us, from the time we are children, especially in America, we have grown up on Disney magic and On-Demand satisfaction, and as a result have been fed this heaping spoonful of glittery words that say something like, “You can be anything you want to be,” and “You are a princess,” and, “You deserve the very best.”
Again, well meaning and even true to some degree. Those words look good, smell good, and feel good, don’t they?
So why is it that we grow up, see all the ways we don’t quite measure up, notice every way we aren’t (insert thing here) enough, hide away our shame and insecurity behind every line on our resumes, and yet somehow, though we may occupy an envied position at the office, still feel completely and totally unworthy? Not enough?
See, I think those things that are meant to encourage us can be one part encouraging and two parts damaging if not coupled with truth.
Here’s what I mean:
There is a huge difference between being deserving and being worthy. To deserve something suggests that you’ve earned it.
However, the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines WORTHY as having sufficient worth or importance, or having value.
So then, something is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Something that is deserved is something that is earned.
There is a difference.
To be worthy is to be given worth. To be deserving is to earn or merit something.
Yet, so often, we mentally equate the two.
We feel unworthy of love because we feel we have not deserved love. Because we haven’t. Yet, we’ve been given it fully by the God of the universe.
We feel unworthy of security, joy, blessings, and forgiveness because we feel we know all the ways we’ve failed and have not been good enough to deserve security, joy, blessings, and forgiveness. Yet, God pours those things out to a humble heart.
So, then, what’s the problem?
The problem is ultimately that we’ve bit at the lie that we are worthy in and of ourselves. And then we wonder why we always come up short of enoughness (is that a word?).
We’ve overlooked the reality as to why we are considered worthy–and not what, but Who, makes us worthy.We've overlooked the reality as to why we are considered worthy--and not what, but Who, makes us worthy. Click To Tweet
It’s actually when we acknowledge our unworthiness that we experience the full weight of being gifted true worth.
In Luke 7, something magnificent, something earth shattering and paradigm shifting unfolds.
In the first part of this passage, a Centurion had a servant that was sick. The centurion had power and authority in the area and he was well-liked and respected. When the centurion heard about Jesus and the miracles He was performing, he sent some of his elders out to find Jesus, to plead with him to heal his servant–a servant the centurion highly valued.
So, the elders set out to find Jesus. When they did, they pleaded with Him saying, “He (the centurion) is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”
And so, Jesus went with them to see the centurion and his dying servant.
Except, when they arrived, the centurion cried out from inside the walls, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore, I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.” (Luke 7:6-7)
This guy understood his position. He knew he was unworthy in and of himself to be in the presence of Jesus but trusted in Jesus’ worthiness and ability to heal His servant. Others were trying to negotiate God’s favor on the centurion’s behalf because of the good works he had done and things he had accomplished. But the centurion, knowing Himself, told Jesus the truth, “I am not worthy.”
He really was not worthy despite all his good deeds because worth is not something one can earn.
This is where Jesus meets us–when we see ourselves as we really are: worthless, wretched sinners in need of a Savior.
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Ouch. This is offensive, isn’t it?
Facing this reality dares us to see that we all have the capacity for evil, that we all are blemished with sin and carry darkness in the pit of our heart. Consider the thoughts you’ve had. The things you’ve uttered under your breath. The way you’ve gossiped or turned on people.
We often think of the “bad people” as the ones that hurt others–the ones who cause tragedy. We see extreme cases of evil, such as mass shootings, and consider those outliers the only, “bad people.”
And yes, that is evil, that is bad. That is horrible.
But we often focus on the good works we do and consider ourselves in comparison to that and therefore, fool ourselves into thinking we are so far removed from that–incapable of evil.
Yet, the reality is that we all have the capacity for evil. We are all outcasts. We are all the broken and the beaten just looking for worth in worthless things like our good deeds and we all look for life in dead things.We are all outcasts. We are all the broken and the beaten just looking for worth in worthless things like our good deeds and we all look for life in dead things. Click To Tweet
And, if the centurion was considered worthy of healing and God’s favor in the worldly sense, this means that bad things happen to good people. Not as a punishment but because God shows no distinction.
Here’s what I mean: in the very next section of this chapter, we see Jesus heal a widow’s son (vs 11-17). At the time, widows were essentially powerless, poor, and on the outskirts of society. By worldly standards, a widow wouldn’t be considered worthy of Jesus’ time, energy, or miracles.
Yet, right after visiting the centurion–one who is powerful and would be considered worthy–and healing his servant, Jesus went to see the widow and healed her son.
Oh my heart.
God shows no distinction when it comes to suffering nor does he show distinction when it comes to healing. He meets us when we acknowledge our own unworthiness–not when we earn or deserve His abundant grace.
And He takes our worldly worth and turns it into an eternal worth promised in His Word.
Bad things, hard things, and broken things don’t enter into our life to measure our worth but instead as an opportunity to bring forth the fruit of faith in Jesus. When we trust in Him, we inherit the worth we can’t deserve. And this is what God wants for us, ultimately — to know Him, love Him, and be given a priceless gift we cannot earn: redeeming, world changing, worth.
And here’s the truth: we will always find our worth in what we worship. When I live my life to comfort, serve, and worship me, I’ll look for worth in myself and always come up short. When I live in worship of Jesus, I find my worth in Him and never come up short.Because we find our worth in what we worship. Click To Tweet
You are worthy not because of what you’ve earned or deserved but because of the price that was paid for you. His life was given in place of yours–so that you may give your life away. Not to earn it–to learn just how much it cost and just how worthy you are.
You are not your own, for God bought you with a high price. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I am unworthy yet I’ve been given worth because of the price He paid. My value isn’t in what I’m able to prove but in what He was willing to pay.
There’s a song by Cory Ashbury called Reckless Love and my favorite line says, “I can’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You gave Your life away. The overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God…”
The reckless, worthy love of God pursues and pursues. And it gives priceless worth to the most unworthy people.
And that includes you.
So, then, maybe feeling unworthy isn’t something to cover up with inspirational words. Perhaps it’s the very key to discovering true worth.Maybe feeling unworthy isn't something to cover up with inspirational words. Perhaps it's the very key to discovering true worth. Click To Tweet