Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but tablets of human hearts (2 Cor. 3:1-3).
What is it that gives you the assurance you are valuable, needed, and a person of worth? For many of us, our education, accomplishments, resume, title, and popularity give us a feeling of value.
School is out and graduation pictures have been flooding my social media timelines. I have been delighted to see pictures of friends, their children, or even grandchildren who have successfully reached their goals. They met the academic standards and qualified to graduate. Whatever their age or degree, they have every reason to be proud and to celebrate.
After my high school graduation, I walked away feeling like I was on top of the world I was so elated. On the way to my car, I paused and looked up into the starry sky, and thanked God.
Then I had a surprising realization; I was starting all over. I was going out into a world where no one knew me, cared how many friends I had, or what sports I played. My high school diploma only qualified me to go to the next challenge and for me, that was college.
Throughout life, we strive to grow and achieve goals. When we do, more opportunities and challenges await. With each successive accomplishment, we may feel better about ourselves and empowered for the future.
Unfortunately, all too often our celebration is short-lived, and along with it, so is whatever self-worth we had.
For example, I was thrilled as a freshman to earn a spot on my high school’s varsity baseball team. My skills on the field qualified me to play. A week after our first game, my coach came to me and told me I was no longer on the team. My poor grades in the classroom had disqualified me from playing.
Within just a couple of weeks, I went from being the only freshman on the varsity team to being cut from the team. I did not qualify to play.
To say I was heartbroken and embarrassed would be an understatement. But worse, my sense of worth took a hit. I had already begun to equate my value as a person with what I accomplished.
Being disqualified for the baseball team hurt, but the hurt was for good. I vowed never to let it happen again and it didn’t. My grades came up and I was allowed to play varsity baseball my last three years of high school.
It felt so good to be respected as an athlete. When coaches asked me to play sports I had never played, I felt valued. Each accomplishment, whether I was earning a starting position or setting a record, propped up my low self-esteem.
Standards are important and we are measured by them most of our lives. But when we place our self-worth on man-made standards we are building lives on sandcastles that sooner or later will be washed away. I found this out the hard way.
It is common for our world's system to equate our value with our job title, accomplishments, and even social media "likes." Thankfully, this is not God’s way of valuing people.
Please don’t misunderstand, determining to constantly improve and pursue excellence in life is a wise decision. But when we place our worth and value as a person on what appears on our resume, our title, or income, we are contributing to the shallow appraisal and devaluation of God’s creation.
When we place our worth and value as a person on what appears on our resume, our title, or income, we are contributing to the shallow appraisal and devaluation of God’s creation.
You are more than your title, education, income, or popularity. You were created by God and for God. He has a plan and purpose for your life.
I have made many mistakes in my life. One of the worst is basing my value on people’s opinions of me. Sure, I am grateful for everyone who says sincerely kind things to encourage me. I am also thankful for faithful friends who graciously point out where I could improve. But if I only do what I do to be liked by people, I am only exposing who I serve--people and my pride.
Paul was more than qualified to teach and exercise authority among believers, but some judged him superficially and determined he was not qualified. They did not know he was better educated, more experienced, and had held a higher position than nearly all Jews of his day and most non-Jews.
His critics were quick to dismiss him and undermine his leadership. But they didn’t know who He was.
Paul did not place his identity, self-worth, or value on his impressive resume. His qualification to speak on behalf of the Lord came from the Lord. In this instance, he did not offer his education, experience, or even letters of recommendation from others as proof of his authority.
1. [Image: Corey Gant, Kindergarten graduation]
The undeniable evidence of his calling was the work of God in His life as displayed in the lives God touched through him. They were living letters of recommendation proving he was a man of God.
By God's grace, to be used to help people know and follow Christ is my greatest joy. These dear people are my priceless credentials.
Where do you find your worth?
God's love for us began before the foundation of the world was laid. From the beginning, He determined to die for us so we could live.
Nothing we have done or could ever do could earn God's forgiveness or cause Him to love us more.
Only when we turn to Him, admitting our guilt, and humbly surrendering to Him, will He qualify us to be forgiven, to follow Him, and to join Him in Heaven.
1. [Image: Corey Gant. High School Graduation]
You are more than your title and accomplishments. You are who God says you are; no more and no less. You are loved and invited to be reconciled to God and adopted into His family.
For Jesus' followers, our education, achievements, and awards are no longer the source of our self-worth. They become platforms to declare His glory!
The only credential Paul needed was proof of God's work in His life. And like Paul, no critic or doubter can change what God has done and is doing in your life.
And that is all that matters.
Some questions to think about:
What determines your value--your sense of worth?
Is it based only on what you have accomplished?
Or do you determine your worth by God's value of you?
How has God used you to reveal Himself to others?
Who would be a living letter giving evidence you gave them the good news that changed their lives?
My precious young friend, Corey Gant. I had the privilege of coming to know Corey and his family when I was their pastor. This outstanding young man represents the work of God through a loving family and church. (Kindergarten and High School Graduation. Used by permission).