Giving and Receiving Worth

If you have read some of my recent posts you will notice that there are times when I have a feeling a low self worth.  This is born out of a frustration of recognizing I am not the person I want to be – and at times a long way off from that.

I am not the first to feel this way.  See what Paul says in Rom 7:21-25:

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[a] a slave to the law of sin.

 

I recognize the hand of the enemy at work during these moments because he wants to make me ineffective and, if he can, even destructive to the work of God. He does not hesitate to remind me of my failures and how unworthy I am.  And of course, it is a half-truth.  I do have many failures and I am unworthy of God’s mercy.  But that is not the point is it?  I often need to be reminded that I am covered in the blood of Jesus (through my belief) and therefore completely washed clean of my sin.  God sees me “hidden in Christ”.  He no longer sees the sin – it as though it is as far as the east is from the west.  So that takes care of both my failures and unworthiness.  Then add to that I am adopted into the family of God – I am a child of God.  Chosen!  Destined!  Sent!  I just need to humble myself and make myself available.  But I also need to take on and accept that God really does love me!  That He really does accept me as I am AND that He loves me so much that He wants to make me more like Himself.  Wow!  What a privilege.

It is so important that we are honest about our failures.  If we hide them then we are pretending we don’t have any and other people will not be able to see the full work of salvation in our lives.  My failures speak of my need for salvation.  My faith then speaks of my trust in God, His love and His redeemed and refining purposes for my life.

However, that is not the point of this post!  It is simply the reason why I started thinking about giving worth.

Where do we get our sense of self-worth from?  When we speak of worth we speak of value.  So, to put it another way, where do we get our sense of how much others value us and thus how much we might then value ourselves?

It’s an important question.  It’s important because it should force us to be honest. Whose voice do we listen to the most?

How much do the people in school or college/university value me?

How much do the people in my team value me?

How much do the people in my work value me?

How much does my spouse value me?

How much do my family value me?

I have broken out these questions so that we might think through them one by one.

Because whenever we ask “how much does X value me?”, we are also asking, “and what can I do to increase that?”.  We might not put it in to these precise words but I am sure that is what we so often do ask ourselves.  It plays a great importance in our sense of self-worth.  We might then need to consider, “what am I willing to do so that X will value (love) me more?”

The situations that caused me to have such a low self-esteem were those in which I may have humiliated myself in front of people who are important to me.  I may also have inadvertently hurt them in some way.  They are certainly not situations I am proud of.  That then leads to my frustration in myself.

So how do I deal with this?

The answer lies in recognizing how much importance I place on what people think of me.  I think you know where this is going, but before I get there, it’s really important that we don’t undervalue what people think of us either!

I need to place the most importance in what God thinks of me.  This has to be my starting point.  That does not mean I don’t value what others think of me, but it has to be put in perspective.  And interestingly, my starting point for taking on what God thinks of me is not to ask that question but rather to give Him his worth!

I need to start with worshiping God.  I can best worship God by recognizing who He is and what He is like.  The bible tells so much of that but there are also great worship songs out there that do the same.  I would also hope that being among God’s people in church does the same!

He is faithful, loving, kind, generous, swift to bless, slow to anger, almighty, powerful, sacrificial, full of peace, grace and mercy and ready to listen at any time.

He has also achieved so much that makes it possible for me to enter His presence. I need to give thanks for His sacrifice on the cross, the forgiveness of my sin, my adoption into His family and the destiny He places on my life.

And there is so much more!

God is ready to receive our “giving worth” (worship) at any time.  He does not need it, but He does delight in it for in those moments we are closest to God the Father, part of His loving family.  We can enter in to the most Holy place and know His acceptance and healing.

In worshiping God I remind myself of who He is.  That changes everything.  He then reminds me of how much value He has in me.  His willingness to die on the cross so that we can be together is such a beautiful expression of love.  See:

Engraved on His hands

My sense of self-worth changes in these moments and I know that whatever I do it cannot be taken away.

In these same moments I can also confess my sins, ask for forgiveness and also then ask God how I can put it right.  I do value what people think of me (the value they put in me).  It is part of loving and respecting someone.  I also value what they think of God as a result of what they think of me.  So, therefore if I have wronged someone I need to try to put it right, and if they have wronged me then I need to forgive them and where possible let them know it does not get in the way of how much I value (love) them.

But my self-worth must not come from what people think of me.  It must come from accepting and entering into what God thinks of me.

Finally, as well as giving worth to God, we need to find ways to give worth to each other.  This is simply learning to honour people for who they are.  Learning to look for the person God has made them to be and calling it out when we see it at work.  When we bestow God’s identify on someone, we honour them.  We can also do this through prophecy when God sees someone’s identify before we see any sign of it through what they do.  In the same way that God calls Gideon a mighty warrior or Jesus calls Simon, Peter (the rock) before they have done anything to warrant that name, we too can open ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit to call out and honour someone with the name and destiny God has given them.

Opportunities to Bless

Imagine you are in a foreign country (the UK) in a big city (London) and having had a lovely day visiting a famous tourist site (Hampton Court) that the moment you get off a train and see it leave the station you realize that you have left your phone on that train.  A very expensive phone with valuable, personal, memories.

How would you feel?  Distraught.  Stressed.  A lovely day trashed.

What would you do?

Now imagine you are on the way back home from work.  As you get on the train home you see a phone in the seat you have chosen.  What would you do?  This happened to me yesterday.  I had several choices:

  1. Ignore it.  Do nothing.
  2. Find an official or employee of the station (and probably miss the train) – and risk them not doing anything.
  3. Steal it (never an option).
  4. Try to find a way to help the owner get their phone.

For me, it was always going to be option 4!  There are thoughts that go through your mind.  Would other people think I was stealing it?  Would the owner think I had stolen it if they tracked the phone and called the police?  Well sometimes we need to choose to sow blessing and trust in the world rather than add to the overload of suspicion.  To be as innocent as doves (in our actions) whilst being wise to the world we are in (Matt 10:16).  I took the phone and did a search on the internet to try to find out how to return a phone to its owner.  It was locked – so I could not look anybody up.  It was not connected to the internet, so I could not ask Siri to phone “home” or “mom”.  So, I decided to get home, look up the IMEI number and call the provider (seemingly Vodafone) or simply wait for someone to call.

As I walked through the door at home the phone rang and I spoke to Emily, who was very stressed.  Questions were asked about location and we agreed to meet halfway at Wimbledon.  It was a detour and time for me – but it was an opportunity to bless.

When I got to Wimbledon you should have seen their faces (Emily and her husband Mike from New Jersey).  They were so pleased.  We hugged and chatted for a short while – and I know that their evening will have been far, far better than it could have been.  I felt good.

I did not make a choice to feel good.  I reject the argument that even acts of love are selfish – but it did feel really good.  As I was walking back up the hill to my home I thought of Jesus’ words, “it is better to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).  I shared that with Emily and Mike via text – we had exchanged phone numbers.  They had wanted to give me a reward which I refused simply asking them to pass on the kindness to someone else.  They replied to my text saying they would do precisely that.

Now, who has been more blessed, me or them?  It doesn’t really matter.  But I can tell you that we have all come out of the day more blessed than we were.  God is good.

Let’s all look for opportunities to bless.  It’s well worth it.

Church Without Boundaries

My friend Lampa reminded me today of my vision for church.  That the individual church families we go to become more and more intertwined with other church families*.

*I see our local church as our church family.

A friend of his has become disillusioned with his own church – that somehow many within the congregation seemed to lack authenticity.  My friend Lampa is one of the most authentic people I know and indeed it is during the last two years walking a very difficult path with my friend that I was inspired to the thoughts written here:

Suffering – a melting pot for authenticity

Lampa’s friend asked him if he would meet with him once a week to go through the bible because he is an authentic person.  Given Lampa did not want to dishonour the church his friend attends he agreed but said let’s go through the same study as the church.

When Lampa told me he said he was beginning to take on my vision of a better interconnected church.

The vision is that we (the members of any local church) work at building relationships both within our local church family but also with those in different church families (as well as those not in any church family!).  The more of us that do it, the more relationships there will be.  In doing so we will begin to see the respective strengths and weaknesses in our different churches and then collectively find ways to help out one another – in all sort of different ways.

This is the church without boundaries.

It’s better to give than receive …..

I was reminded of something God has shown me historically in the last week.

I have always taken the phrase “It’s better to give than receive” as a given.  It is something I have always accepted as good advice and a statement of truth.  And I still do.  That is not what God showed me!

For more on the phrase see:

Acts 20:35

10 Reasons why it is more blessed to give than receive. (this is an excellent encouragement to give and worth further study)

Did Jesus say it?

So, what was it I was reminded of?

It’s better to give than receive …..

But don’t steal the blessing from someone by refusing to receive what they want to give you.

Be grateful and let them know.

Don’t let pride get in the way of blessing.

Note that God loves to receive our gifts to Him!

Posture – Learning to walk a different way

Relational living.  Positioning (posture) ourselves not just for love but actually growth in love.  Overcoming fear through an increase in faith.  Living lives with a new foundation that is our relationship with God.  Then building and expanding (taking territory) the Kingdom of God in partnership with the Lord through the expression of love in our relationships with one another and those around us.

Generous Givers

What do I learn from today’s ODB passage.

1 Ch 29:1-14

We learn posture from the participants:

  • Generosity (David holds nothing back)
  • Unity (the great joy in giving with leaders and people doing alike and sharing in the whole process)
  • Worship and thanksgiving (David publicly praises and honours God)
  • Humility (David pointing to Solomon and then in v14 pointing out the privilege of giving to God and that all comes from Him anyway).

We learn some of David’s view of God’s identity:

  • Greatness, power, glory, majesty and splendour belong to God – along with everything in heaven and earth.
  • He is exalted as head over the Kingdom (David was a king)
  • Wealth and honour come from God – He is ruler
  • God has the strength and power to exalt others and give them the strength they need

From the ODB passage I particularly noted:

Posture:

  • The honesty of the writer – being open about her own weakness (see the initial reaction to giving).
  • Recognizing that God gives all helps us to give to others

Security and Authority:

  • We can trust the Lord to provide

God’s identity:

  • He always out gives the most generous givers!

For further study (I have not looked yet):

https://discoveryseries.org/courses/cultivating-a-heart-of-contentment/

Generous Givers

Suffering reveals ….

Rom 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Focus on v3,4 – suffering->perseverance->character->hope

It is the lack of hope in the world that so often destroys – despair leads people to do desperate things.  Let us be people of hope.

 

Suffering, whether it is our suffering or someone else’s, reveals ….

  • Who we are
  • Who we choose to be
  • What we are becoming

How do you respond in the midst of suffering?  Who do you choose to be?

Our struggle against Individualism

I believe that one of the greatest challenges we face in the Western World is the pressure towards individualism.

What I mean by that is that our education, financial and employment systems all pile the pressure on people that they need to look after themselves.  To be independent.  To achieve academically, so that we can achieve in our careers so that we can achieve financially.  Indeed, many would equate financial freedom with freedom.

I am not saying that we should be irresponsible nor am I saying that we should not make every effort to positively contribute to society rather than live off it.  Quite the contrary.  But let’s be responsible rather than be concerned about being seen to be responsible.  We might even be called reckless at times if we are moving in faith rather than fear.

We are not made to live alone.  We are born into families, create and expand those families and form communities.  But the pressure we come under to achieve individually easily translates into fear of failure – striving to be seen to be successful.  We have to walk the treadmill of life.

Society is a hard, ruthless task master.

Our churches need to be a stark contrast.

We need to know, individually, that we are accepted, valued and loved.

We should make every effort to ensure all members of our church family and wider community have an opportunity to receive that same message of acceptance, value and love.

We have to undo the lies of societal programming – and we must not add to them!

Strength in Suffering

A good word from ODB.

How loving those who hurt us sets us apart and ultimately wins hearts.

1 Peter 2:11-23

Strength in Suffering