I remember the conversation very clearly. Dr. Bigley and I were sitting in a booth in the far left corner of my school’s dining hall. I hadn’t touched my plate. I looked up from him in disbelief with tears starting to form in my eyes. He had just finished telling me that my value is not based on my talents. Simple enough concept, right? It may seem to be a simple concept, but it was earth shattering to me at that time.
For as long as I can remember I’ve thought that my worth was directly correlated with my performance. Good grades? Good daughter! Good singing? Good friend! Good serving? Good Christian!
Some people might blame this pattern of thinking on a traumatic experience in life. I am sure there was a young woman who was severely punished for poor grades in elementary school and has ever since fought for the approval of man based upon her scholastic achievement. And there have been young men who were torn apart after a soccer match in Junior High and the whole team turned their backs on him. But after he won with a Beckham like penalty kick the game prior to championships, each of his teammates and his coach treated him like a brother. Perhaps we look back on situations like these and blame them. “Well of course I think my worth is in my performance! Look how cruelly they treated me!” Maybe that is true for you. But I don’t think it is for me. And I don’t think it is like that for most people.
You see, as humans, we are very selfish people. It’s what we do. I think about me. You think about you. That guy thinks about himself. And that girl thinks about herself. So when we live in our self-centered worlds of “what’s in it for number one?” we tend to look at people and value them based on what they can do for us. Think about the kind of characteristics you look for in a friend. Now it is, of course, different for everybody, but some general ones are: someone who is easy to talk to, who is funny, maybe someone who is interested in the same things I am interested in, etc. etc. Look at that list. Nothing wrong with that list. But they are all self-gratifying characteristics. Who would want a friend who is needy, or depressed, or takes extra work to love. It should be easy!
What am I getting at here? It may seem like I am just rambling. Here is my point: we sinfully look at other people and value them based on what they can do for us. Then we wrongfully look at ourselves and think our value is based on what we can do for other people. And God is saying
No, your value isn’t in what you do, or how well you do it. You are always both incredibly easy and incredibly difficult to love and yet I do love you at my absolute maximum. I do not think like you think. I do not and cannot love you any more when you are successful, and happy, and doing everything right. And I do not and cannot love you any less when you fail, and are miserable, and oh so very difficult. My love for you is at 100% and it is staying just there. And because I love you so relentlessly and steadfastly, despite all your mess-you ought to do the same.
So my friends cling to the truth that you are not cherished by God based on your performance, ability, or skill. He is love. It’s what He does. That beautiful truth should cause you to change how you view yourself and how you view other people. On both your good days and your bad days, as a child of the High King you are of infinite value. Knowing this changes things. Even in the moments where you struggle to love yourself, God isn’t struggling at all. Find peace in that. And even the people that you find hard to love, God doesn’t at all. So don’t just love people who are easy to love. Anyone can do that. Even the unbelievers do that. How people can tell that we’ve been washed by the blood, is that we love the unloved. We love the difficult. We love the least of these. Because in all reality-we are one of them.