Worth, Worthiness, and Self-Worth: Part I
Definition, Psychology, and the True Psychologist
Introduction: This six-part series: Worth, Worthiness, and Self-Worth brings a proper understanding of and clarity to such terms as Worth, Worthiness, and Self-Worth. The meaning of such terms as worth, worthiness, and self-worth are hot topics in some spheres especially in the field of psychology. This field and its theories and postulates carry much weight in many cultures including the American culture. However, there is only one true Psychologist, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Triune God has spoken in His infallible, inerrant, consistent, and time-honored Word. What God says in His Word should be the believer’s authority for any subject. What the Bible proclaims let no one put asunder! They do at their own risk and to the detriment of various group of people.
The Bible proclaims man as God’s image bearer, created as a whole but duplex person – body and soul who thinks, desires, and acts as a whole being in both his inner man(heart) and the outer man (the physical body). Any view of man that deviates from this correct anthropology must be discarded.
A few questions are in order to correctly introduce the subject. Let’s start personally and horizontally. How do you define worth? What is your worth (value, significance) and where is it to be found? What is your view of worth, worthiness, and self-worth and where did your view originate? What is your standard for asking and answering such questions? What is your standard for reaching a conclusion regarding worth, worthiness, and self-worth or a sense of worth? What makes determining your worth so important to you? How will you know your true worth? Who makes the final determination of someone’s worth?
Let’s move vertically toward God. Consider these questions: Is determining one’s worth important to God? Why and why not? How will you know? All of these questions must be answered correctly. The answers must take into account fallen man’s tendency to focus on self. In every culture post-fall, the subject of self-esteem, self-centeredness, and self-worth has reared its head. You read about the subject in the newspaper and various journals and you hear about the subject in various mass media communications. Since the above questions deserve accurate answers, I ask again: what source or sources will you choose in order to find the answer? For the Christian, that standard can be nothing other than the Bible. God is truth, light, and life; He defines reality; His word is truth and it defines reality (John 14:6; 17:17; 16:13).
The idea of the importance of worth, worthiness and self-worth is pervasive and its origin seems to be a humanistic effort to solve the problem of bad feelings (see Abraham Maslow’s Theories of Hierarchy of Needs and Self-actualization, 1943). Bad feelings are thought to be linked to that which is outside a person. Seeking worth, worthiness, and self-worth (however defined) is alleged to help the individual make peace within. As a result, the person ceases to be displeased with anything including himself, his circumstances, and those around him. Please notice that there is no vertical, Godward reference.
For a variety of reasons, many people, including believers, seek “it.” They attempt to find their worth, worthiness, self-worth, however defined, in something or someone; that someone may be God. Along the way they may seek freedom from that someone or something. The definition of worth seems ambiguous but regardless many people pursue “it.” An airplane pilot is a significant factor for flying the plane and getting everyone on board safely to their final destination. While true, the example does not capture the subjectivity and emotive aspects when self-worth pundits speak and write about worth, worthiness and self-worth.
A common definition of self-worth is the value and significance a person places on himself based on any number of factors. That definition postulates that man is to make judgments regarding his intrinsic value. Moreover, he is to seek after it. If that is true, what is the source of that worth and what is it? Further, why is it “hidden?” Is it true for every single person and if so what would be the result if every person on the planet were seeking their self-worth at the same time? Where does God fit into this scheme if He does? In an attempt to further characterize the term some define the term as the sense of one’s own value as a person because he is a person. The focus is on the person and not the Creator and the person’s responsibility to the Creator.
Another dictionary defines self-worth as the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person. It is the worth that one assigns himself or that a person believes he has innately as a human being and which affects his function. Notice, self-worth carries the idea that man has intrinsic, inherent worth and that one of man’s goals is to seek and get it. It is his right and duty. The assumption is that man has worth and significance simply because he is man. No credence is given to the fact of how man became man. Rather, self-worth just is. Further, man has the right, even the mandate, to value and seek self-worth however defined. What is the source of the right and the mandate? If it is mandate from whatever source, certainly there must be a guide on how to do it.
What is the basis for these conclusions? Psychology believes the basis for these conclusions resides in man alone and it is best for him to seek his level of worth. Psychology masquerades as a science; it pontificates on how man should then live. The fulfilling of the mandate may occupy all of his life. The assumption rests on the belief that man has intrinsic worth and he is to seek self-worth for his own good. Interesting: if man has it why does he need to seek it? What happened to it? Where did it go if it is a self-evaluation? The claim is: anyone who denies the search for self-worth is hindering a person’s health. The assertion is based on the self-anointed axiom that the pursuit of one’s self-worth is normal and proper for the person’s health.
1. What is the origin of the concept of self-worth and self-esteem?
2. What is its basis?
3. How will you know your self-worth and what then will you do?
Worth, Worthiness, and Self-Worth: Part II
Definition and Biblical Truth
Worth, worthiness and self-worth is something man is reported to have. If you are a believer and accept self-worth dogma, you will conclude that God gave you worth, worthiness, self-worth, value, and significance. Your goal is to seek it and somehow to get it even you may not know what it is or how to get it. . You will be told, if you don’t get “it”, you will be miserable. On the other hand, if you are an unbeliever who agrees with self-worth pundits, you will seek and hope to “find” it somewhere.
If worth, worthiness and self-worth is something that God gave to you, how did you get it? Remember the definition of self-worth: it is the result of a judgment of comparisons and contrasts that a person makes regarding self in relation to others. Self-worth pundits teach that the problem is not self-worth. The person has it. The problem revolves around the result of the person’s judgment. That judgment usually results in feelings, bad or good, depending on what the person perceives is happening or not happening to him. Bad feelings drive the pursuit of one’s “true” worth, worthiness and self-worth in order to avoid bad feelings.
Perhaps unrecognized or denied by those who profess self-worth, the whole concept lacks a proper vertical, Godward reference. The pursuit of self-worth is a statement about God and to God. Often the self-judgment focuses on what a person does not have but thinks he deserves or wants, or on what he has and does not want. Both of these situations are statements about God and His providence. At their core, they charge God with wrong-doing and that He has made a mistake.
Please notice that the person makes the assessment and charts a course often for his entire life based on the label of seeking his self-worth. He does not know what it is, but he labels himself or someone else labels him as a low-self-worth, low self-esteem type of person. Many if not all of “life problems” are attributed to low self-worth. The self-worth pundits claim that the answer to the problem is to stop comparing self to others and to get busy with self-compassion and self-love. The person needs to turn his attention to himself and love himself. Others aren’t and God isn’t capable of meeting the person’s needs. The assumption is that the person is a needy person. He is lacking because of others.
Taken all the way to God, the pundits teach that God’s love does not do justice for and to the person and it does not give what the person is allegedly lacking. In other words, God has done the person wrong. God is the problem! Moreover, the person is told that he needs to believe in himself and put self first. Obviously, self takes center stage and the whole world, including God, is to be viewed as his servant – for self, to self, by self.
Some try to distinguish self-esteem from self-worth by saying the former is the measuring of oneself against others and it focuses on doing; self-worth is paying attention to one’s intrinsic value and is more concerned with being. Moreover, one school of psychology claims that babies are born knowing their self-worth; as life moves on, the comments, expectations, and attitudes of other people can change this natural sense of self-worth. In other words, man is not born a sinner; he has a clean heart; he is a victim to God’s providence via “bad people,” and bad feelings are the result of what someone does or does not do to him.
In contrast to the teaching of self-worth pundits, this desire and activity of looking within rather than out and up and then within originated after the fall and God’s judgment. Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve knew who and what they were. They were image bearers of God in right relation to God and to each other. Life was simple.
Psalm 8 pictures man in the backdrop of creation (8:3). David was utterly amazed that God was mindful of man and that God cared for him (8:4). David was not speaking of man’s worth but of God’s majesty and His worth (8:1). Moreover, man’s time/life is in God’s hands; man is here and gone tomorrow but God is forever (Psalm 31:15; 144:3-4). Any value that man has is given to him by God. Man is the image bearer of God. He is not the original, God is. However, man is the reflector of the real thing. Any worth that any man has, believer or unbeliever, is a reflection of God as His image. If the person is a believer, his worth is not his own or intrinsic to him. Rather it derived from union with Christ – the believer is in Christ by the Holy Spirit.
It is interesting that self-worth and self-esteem people don’t seem concerned when the unborn child is murdered for the purpose of maintaining alleged self-esteem and self-worth of the mother. The mother’s “self-worthy” trumps the baby’s! Scripture passages such as Isaiah 40:6-8 (1 Peter 1:23-25) presents a picture of man by way of a contrast. Isaiah contrasts the brevity and the temporariness of man with the word of God. All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of field – both die. In contrast the word of God stands forever. Compared to God and His Word, man is a lightweight. The Bible is not interested in man’s worth. Man’s worth is tied to God as Image bearer.
After God’s judgment and curse on mankind, life was complicated because man became a self-pleaser and self-focuser. Sadly what he was in himself took center stage. The tendency to look within self, by self, for self in order to gain something for self continues even in believers. Sadly, this phenomenon has been labeled as self-worth and self-esteem which must be pursued. Sin and sinning are to be desired by fallen man!
The mantra for its pursuit is self-love, self-compassion, and self-belief. The person is to protect himself by self from that which is outside of him. Again self takes center stage based on man’s dependence on psychological traditions which are anti-God and from logic that is divorced from biblical truth. The moral drama of self vs. God within the heart is ignored and denied. The Bible is either removed from the discussion of self-worth or it is used only to bolster the view that man must pursue believing in himself for his good and glory. Self-worth and its development demand it. Matthew 22:37-40 is often used to justify this concept.
Consider this quote from just one of a myriad websites addressing the topic: Self-respect is the most crucial aspect of one’s life. If you do not understand how to appreciate yourself and your worth, how do you expect others to? Life is too short to maintain toxic relationships. In order for yours to flourish, you need to work on yourself first.” “Don’t expect anyone to love or respect you if you don’t fully love yourself first.” “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anyone or anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy” (www.elitedaily.com: Self Worth: Why you need to Value Yourself More). There you have it – a mandate that strikes at the very core of biblical truth and denies the Fall and its effects. Self is placed on the throne as the person competes with God. But, please notice God’s word: God does not give His glory to anyone (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11).
1. What is psychology’s view of self-worth and self-esteem?
2. Where does it originate?
3. What is the lifelong goal of every person according to self-worth pundits? How does it compare with 2 Corinthians 5:9, 14-15?
4. How is a person to “get” self-worth and at whose expense?
Worth, Worthiness, and Self-Worth: Paul’s Epistles: Part III
1 Corinthians 1:30-31
Paul addressed the question of worth in a variety of his epistles. In verse 30 of 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote that it was because of him (God) that you (all believers) are in Christ. One commentator translated that passage to read that the Corinthian believers were something in Christ. That translation implies that they are nothing out of Christ! Out of Christ they are doomed for misery in this life and eternal damnation (Romans 8:5-8; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Ephesians 2:1-3). It is of further interest that verse 30 is sandwiched between two verses that accentuate the right focus and manner of boasting – only in Christ (v.29, 31). Self-worth pundits and seekers of it are boasters. They are proud people because they are seek something that has been given to the believer and only the believer.
Being in Christ is a gift bought with the blood of Christ and it is a permanent, eternal union and relationship. It is not earned by the believer. It is received by the use of the gift of saving faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Being in Christ ushers the believer into a realm of a new existence characterized by truth and reality. Being out of Christ means the person is pro-self; self takes center stage. The unbeliever is always out of Christ and Satan is his father. The believer, too often, functions in the same way. However, the believer can and does repent. These truths help to answer and refocus self-worth pundits and yourself.
Being in Christ means more than a simple relationship. Because of the believer’s relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit, he is something in Christ. What is he? He has been rescued by the Rescuer, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13-14). The believer was brought from darkness and deadness that totally characterizes Satan’s kingdom and family (Ephesians 2:1-3, 4, 5-10. He was brought into light and life that characterizes God’s kingdom and family (Ephesians 5:8-14). The believer has been regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; Romans 6:9-11). He has had a family transfer so that the believer is a child of God. But there is more! He has positional holiness, a perfect standing before God, and he has been reconciled to God by God for God (1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Romans 3:21-26; 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21)). As a result of these changes, gifts, privileges, and blessings, the believer grows in Christlikeness in his thoughts, desires, and actions. He resembles less and less Satan and imitates more and more Christ. These blessings are the believer’s. He is God’s forever.
The Bible does not focus on the believer’s worth. Rather, it details what the person is out of Christ and what privileges and blessings he has in Christ. These privileges and blessings rightly understood and used enable the believer to think and desire properly about God, self, and others. Thus the issue of self-worth in resolved. It is not what the person is in and of himself or thinks of himself but what he is in God by Christ through the Holy Spirit. The issue of self-worth is resolved when the person begins with God and then properly moves to self and others.
There is a caveat. The believer is saved but he is a saved sinner. There is remaining sinfulness and self-pleasing habituation. He will sin. As result, guilt and misery are still part of the believer’s life. Fellow believers will sin against him. He will make self-evaluations as he should but based on God’s word motivated by a desire to please God (Matthew 7:1-6; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 3:12; 4:12)
The Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14 flaunted his self-delegated and self-described worth before God and others. God passed judgment on him – he was self-righteousness and a self-trusting loser. In contrast, the tax collector made a proper assessment of himself. As a result he bowed his knee to God. He acknowledged he had no intrinsic worth. His worth centered on a God-derived, personal relationship with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit. This proper view of himself enabled the tax collector to properly worship God and live as one saved by grace. Life was simplified.
1. What is the believer’s proper label?
2. What does the believer and it is the result of what?
3. The Bible’s focus is what in regards to God and the believer?
Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: Part IV:
In continuing the series: Worth, worthiness, and self-worth, we turn to Pau’s letter to the Philippians. It is is one of Paul’s warmest letters. The congregation sent him support when he was imprisoned in Rome and he was extremely thankful (1:3-8). He let them know that Epaphroditus was well (2:19-24), and he gave biblical principles that addressed their response to and in tough times including his imprisonment (1:12-18). He also addressed the split in the Philippian church later in the letter (see chapter 4). Prior to chapter 4, he laid the groundwork for developing congregational unity. He began in Philippians 1:27-2:13 which led to his exhortation as given in chapter 4.
Verse 27 of chapter 1 was a call and plea to live a God-pleasing life: Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…. Paul gave an essential characteristic of the child of God (see later blogs regarding Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12). He called the Philippians to a patterned lifestyle in which thoughts, desires, and actions were to be fitting and appropriate for a child of God. Paul called every Philippian believer to function in that manner. The call was a directive not simply a suggestion. Self-worth was never the issue. Rather, God’s worth and the person’s God-worth was and still is. Paul knew the gospel, the God of the gospel, and the influence of the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In his summary statement, Paul called the brothers and sisters to be what they were in Christ, individually and corporately (1:27).
Paul reminded the congregation that any worth, value, or significance they could imagine about themselves was not innate or deserved. The trio of words did not enter into Paul’s vocabulary. Rather, the believer himself has a God-derived status and position freely given to them supernaturally which removed any boasting in themselves but stimulated them to boast in the Triune God (1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14). Where much was given much was demanded (Luke 12:47-49). As believers, they were blessed and gifted with God in spite of themselves (see Romans 5:6-10; Ephesians 2:1-3).
Salvation in all its fullness was a supernatural gifting because it originated from above (John 3:3-8; James 3:13-18). It was to lead them into a different way of thinking, desiring, and acting about God, self, others, and God’s providence. Therefore, they were to take their eyes off self and put them on God and others in a correct manner. Paul described one characteristic of the mindset and resultant lifestyle of one saved in Philippians 2:3-5: consider others more significant, more important than themselves! God gave to them a different measuring stick!
Believers will and do think differently about self, God, and others. They function from the mindset that it was more important to give than to receive because they received supernaturally at regeneration (Acts 20:35). The call was for believers to function as servants imitating Christ. They were to consider others more important than themselves (Philippians 2:3-5). Being first in line was not to be of major importance. Placing others before self was (and is today!) a main thrust in the Christian life. It imitates Christ! Christ put His Father’s desires and loving others ahead of His own comfort. By virtue of regeneration, the believer’s thoughts and desires are radically changed as he considers God, himself, and others.
This new Christlike-mindset leads to a lifestyle that imitates the mindset and lifestyle of Christ (see Philippians 2:5-8, 9-11). Becoming more like Christ is every believer’s calling, duty, blessing, and privilege (1 John 3:1-3). It can be summarized as living a life worthy of God. Truly the believer is something in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). This calls for boasting but there is a caveat. Any boasting is in Christ, for Christ, and by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:31 which quote Jeremiah 9:23-24). Paul calls for proper boasting based on a proper understanding of who the person is! This excludes seeking self-worth. The Triune God in Christ by the Holy Spirit bought His enemy and rebel (Romans 5:6-10). He was sold on himself and very much interested in glorifying himself and finding his worth in himself. The Triune God bought him and saved him from sin, Satan, and self. He put him in Christ an indwelt him with the Holy Spirit. Now he is something in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30).
1. What is your approach to a person’s worth including yours?
2. What makes it important to you or any person to determine a person’s worth?
3. What is your standard for making this determination?
Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians: Part V
In our discussion: Worth, worthiness, and self-worth, we turn to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Throughout Scripture, God calls the believer to make an accurate self-inventory (Matthew 7:1-6; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 3:12; 4:12; James 4:1-3). The inventory is not designed to detect his self-worth. It is designed to envision the Triune God who saves a people for Himself in spite of them. If someone wants to speak of man’s worth, he must begin with God. If there was no Creator, man would not exist. Life begins with and by God and it ends with God. God is, therefore man is.
What is man worth to God? For the self-worth pundits, that is not the issue. For them it is the self-worth of the person to himself! Some people try to Christianize the self-worth concept. They claim that salvation is a testimony to man’s worth. Salvation to this group is a display not of God’s glory, love, mercy, and majesty but of man’s worth. Interesting since God is eternal and infinite and man is created! They assume that God owes man even though man is the creature and God is the Creator. It is as if sinful rebellious man deserves to be saved and treated him well by God. Give man his due is the war cry. It is interesting that self-worth people would even think, let alone speak, of a Savoir and Redeemer. Rather Jesus is only a Giver – an errand boy to provide what man lacks due to God’s failure.
The above tenet that God owes man is a perversion and denial of reality and biblical truth. Further, the above tenets do not agree with the Bible in general and Romans 5:6-10 specifically. Fallen man was no catch or prize for God. God does not save good or worthy people or those who could save themselves. Saving good people would be absurd on many counts. Moreover, God saves with an agenda of change beginning at salvation and continuing after salvation. Salvation is the beginning of dying to self by denying self and the cessation of living by I want and I deserve. Dying to self is accomplished by living for God, to God, by God out of privilege and blessing as well as duty.
In the previous blog, I discussed Paul’s appeal to the Philippians to live a life worthy of their calling. They could not continue to live unworthily – for self, to self, by self – as they had been living as a pattern mindset and lifestyle. These characterized their lives as unbelievers. Disunity in the congregation reflected their previous life as an unbeliever. You expect division between unbelievers. But disunity among believers is sinful, unacceptable, and grieves and offends the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Paul called for a change which would occur when they looked at Christ and His work as Mediator and what they were in Him. This is in marked contrast to the focus of the Philippians –at self, for self, by self.
Paul made a similar appeal in at least three of his other letters: Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; and 1 Thessalonians 2:12. The subject was obviously an important one. Paul addressed four different congregations with virtually the same message: they were to remember who God was; they were to remember their identity and who they were; and they were to remember the cost of placing them in Christ. As a result, they were to cherish and to rejoice in their new status as new creatures in Christ in a new creation. The believer’s lifestyle (thoughts, desires, and actions) was to reflect what the Triune God had done in him and for him through Christ by the Holy Spirit, individually and corporately. The believer has a worthy calling because it was given by God and originated from Him. The believer was no prize to be had by the highest bidder. The believer had been destined for hell!
The believer is in Christ, the greatest blessing that fallen man can have. The believer must and will live like as one in Christ (Romans 6:3-6, 9-11). The believer’s worth in Christ is an advertisement to the goodness, mercy, love, and justice of God! Salvation highlights the Triune God and the believer enjoys the festivities. He derived a multitude of blessings from his changed status as a child of God. He was placed into God’s family supernaturally and is blessed with many privileges. Sadly, too many believers are not satisfied with what they are in Christ. It is not enough. They want something more rather than more of the something, which is Christ. Seeking self-worth is a sinful, misguided, poor substitute for the real thing which is union with Christ and that truth implies.
In chapter 4 of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul began to spell out how to apply basic doctrinal truths discussed in chapters 1-3. Paul wrote: As a prisoner for the Lord then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received (4:1). Paul wrote this circular letter during his first imprisonment in Rome. Ephesians and Philippians are two of the so-called “prison epistles” (as are Colossians and Philemon). One theme of the letter was unity of the body. Paul was not a slave of Rome but of Christ and so, too, are all believers (also see Romans 6:16-19; Philippians 1:12-18). Paul recalled supernatural facts about believers and himself: they were called by God and made members of God’s household and kingdom (Ephesians 4:1). They were something in Christ! They were given a great privilege – to live as new creatures individually and corporately (Romans 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:14-15). Paul motivated his people to enjoy living as God-pleasers. He illustrated what this lifestyle was to look like in chapters 4-6 of the letter to the Ephesians.
1. What is Paul’s focus and why?
2. What was going on in the church at Philippi? What was Paul’s directive (4:1-3)?
3. A life worthy of their calling was to look like what? Please the mention of joy and rejoice throughout the letter. What was that joy and what the source of that joy?
Paul’s letters to the Colossians and the Thessalonians
In the series: worth, worthiness, and self worth, I move to Paul’s letter to the Colossians and the Thessalonians. Paul’s letter to the Colossians countered false teachings by emphasizing the supremacy of Christ. In chapter 1, Paul gave thanksgiving and he prayed for the congregation (1:9-11). The prayer was very similar to the one he penned in Philippians 1:9-12. Paul asked the Father to fill them with knowledge of God, His will and His ways (1:9). Paul prayed for the Colossians to be rightly informed – to know in an intimate way the things of God. His purpose in doing so was given in verse 10: … that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.
Paul reminded his congregations that saving faith was always an informed, intelligent, active, and obedient faith. The epistle was a gift for the people in order for them to accomplish the goal of living a life worthy of their calling. A life worthy of the Lord was a fulfillment of the third commandment. Paul was interested in closing the gap between a label (I am a Christian) and functioning as one. Being a Christian meant thinking, desiring, and acting as Christ did. In that way God would be magnified and glorified.
Seeking self-worth is counterintuitive to the Bible’s call to put off and deny self and put on Christ (Matthew 10:38; 16:24-26; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:26; John 12:25). Paul’s epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians) emphasize that boasting is not in self. It is getting out of self and into Christ. No person can do this. It is done to him as a believer supernaturally by the work of the Triune God. In response, the believer begins to function as one saved by Christ! God defines what is worthy and it is Him (1 Chronicles 16:25; Psalms 18:3; 48:1; 96:4; 145:3)
Paul’s letter to the predominantly Gentile church at Thessalonica was written to give hope and encouragement, to give sound teaching and instruction, to give assurance regarding the future, and to exhort the congregation to stay busy. Many, if not most, of the congregation was lax, idle, and busy-bodies based on a wrong view of the second coming. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul addressed the duty and privilege of working heartily unto the Lord daily. He exhorted them to live lives worthy of God who calls you into his kingdom and glory (2:12).
The business of living out one’s regeneration is called sanctification. Paul reminded the congregation that being saved and functioning as one saved is part of the gospel message. Rightly functioning as a child of God brings honor and glory to the Triune God. It is best for the individual believer and the Church. As a result of a growing knowledge of their new state, new status, new kingdom, new family, and new citizenship, God’s people will be motivated to live as one of God’s children. Self-worth is not and will never be the issue for God. It should never be the issue for the believer. How can it be since the Bible is replete with the call to live worthy of who God is, who the believer is in Christ, and that which God has given every believer.
In a variety of ways, Paul has spelled out what living worthily looks like in his epistles but especially in the four mentioned in these blogs. At least it means thinking God’s thoughts, desiring what God desires, and acting as one saved – because the believer and the Church are new creatures in the new creation yet to be consummated (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:14-15)! It means dying to self as the believer is alive to God. At least it means putting on love of God and love of the brothers when it is so easy to be self-focused (Matthew 22:37-40); it means putting self in its proper position (John 13:34-35). It means knowing and acting upon the fact that God is God and the believer is not (Ps. 46:10). These truth are liberating (John 8:31-32). Life is simplified and God gets the glory.
Moreover, rightly understood, determining one’s worth, worthiness and self-worth has no place in the Christian’s life. Rather, the believer is to get busy reflecting on who God is, what He has done and is doing, and the privilege and blessing that the believer has as a child of the King. As a result thoughts, desires, and actions change. Feelings may say differently but actions and feelings change as one uses biblical truth to guide and instruct thoughts and desires.
In 1 John 3:1-3 John begins with God as Father by highlighting the love of God in the context of adoption. John was utterly amazed. The child of God has a new family but more. For him, resurrection life begins at regeneration/salvation. John further emphasized that the now – resurrection life – pointed to eternity. Eternal life has a temporal aspect. The believer is saved for heaven but that heavenly life begins on this earth – now (John 17:3; Romans 6:1-11)! This truth is a reality because the believer has union with Christ through the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer and the Church. Concern for self and “self-respect” must give way and be replaced by trust in a good God Who brings all things to pass for His glory and the good of the believer (Romans 8:28-29).
1. What does Paul mean when he urges the congregations to live a life worthy of God and their calling? How will that look in your life?
2. How do you define worth? What makes it an important activity for you? Have you arrived? Give reasons for your answers.
3. What are your plans for living a life worthy of the Triune God, who bought you, indwelt you, and promised never to leave you or forsake you?