Are you a narcissist or a doormat? A person whose self-worth is off the charts, or does your view of yourself depend on what others think of you or tell you? Chances are you are somewhere in between, as most of us are.
In a landscape setting, some plants are worth more than others. Late in my gardening “path” I discovered that a few really good anchor trees and shrubs are worth spending a little money on, rather than filling the beds with random bargains.
In a way, that was a progression in my own self-worth as a gardener. Sure, the $3 sugar maple gives us a lot of pleasure as it turns red in the fall, and the $1 peach trees gave us much more value in its scrumptious fruit than we paid initially. There is immense satisfaction in knowing one can turn something free or cheap into a treasure.
Now I recommend to new gardeners to spend a little money on the “bones” of the garden before they fill it with treasures they find at bargain rates. A good Curly Willow or a nice little Hearts of Gold Redbud will be worth the investment, and all the other things around them can be moved, tweaked, improved, or composted.
The scriptures tell us that we all have worth — GREAT worth. Jesus bled and died for each one of us.
“And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15, NASB).
While we are well aware of our worth to God, we are also taught to be humble.
The idea of humility can be twisted to make us deny our own worth, though. We are not worthless, disgusting creatures; except in relation to the purity and awesomeness of our Lord.
It is okay to acknowledge our strengths, if only to improve on them and become transformed into the image of Christ.
Nathaniel is a clear example. Jesus pronounced him a man “In whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47). This was directly after meeting him! What a “first impression” that must have been to a man who questioned whether anyone from Galilee could be good.
Rather than hem and haw at the compliment, Nathaniel instead accepted it by asking how Jesus knew him. (John 1:48). After all, it would have been deceitful to deny the praise, thus calling Jesus a liar.
It didn’t make Nathaniel less humble to admit that truthfulness and honesty were among his strong qualities. He had obviously worked on his life and character to be pleasing to God, probably similar to the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27.
The young ruler had kept all the commandments, and said so. Jesus did not contradict him, but asked him to do one thing that he had not done; nevertheless “Jesus felt a love for him” (v. 21).
Both of these men had healthy self-esteem.
“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).
We are to think no more highly of ourselves, but certainly no more lowly of ourselves than we ought. As Christians, we must not let the world tell us how imperfect we are. We already know that. As we become more and more like Christ, let us remain realistic about our progress.