Money, beauty, athletics, academics, expensive things, talents, popularity. What came to mind when you read this list? Those are a few things that the world tells us are important and causes us to fall into the trap of being distracted. For example. I took the ACT this year and scored higher than my anticipated goal. I was so happy. When I thought about how happy my score made me, I realized something. I realized that I was putting a lot of my self-worth into making a good grade on a test that does not define who I am. This happens a lot. The world encourages us to put our worth in worldly things instead of godly things, and sometimes we give in to that temptation. The world decides who is popular, who is “more talented” than other people, who is “smarter,” ect… They make unrealistic goals for us to reach, and in trying to reach these goals our attention gets shifted away from God. The good news is: we can overcome this!
The Bible tells us that the things the world values really aren’t worth much. For example, in Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 Solomon, the richest and wisest man ever, talks about all the possessions he had. Specifically verses 10-11 read, “And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and striving after the wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” From this passage we find out that no physical possessions in this world could ever bring value to who we are.
Paul tells us that God says, “I will the wisdom of the wise…” in 1 Corinthians 1:19-20. This means that if my primary focus is on academics or sports, that wisdom will ultimately be destroyed. This is what Paul cautions against in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 when he talks about running for the perishable wreath instead of the imperishable.
1 Samuel 16:7 talks about outer beauty. What does society say is beautiful? Being skinny, wearing make-up, having perfect hair. This is something every girl deals with. When I think of this topic, I am reminded of Esther. After a year of beauty treatments she was finally able to see the king. Then she was chosen because of her outer beauty. Are her looks really what made her beautiful? That’s not what we remember her for. We remember Esther for having the strength and courage to save her people, even though it required putting herself in danger. Her looks may have put her in that situation, but it was her inner beauty, her strength and courage, that led her to succeed.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 reads, “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness with good works.” This passage was written by Paul to Timothy telling him what was needed from the congregation in Ephesus. Paul is basically telling Timothy that women should focus more on spiritual things than their physical appearance.
So, if we can’t put our worth in our possessions, academics, sports, or our outer beauty, what can we put our worth in? We need to put our worth in spiritual things. To find those things, we need to look in God’s Word. The first thing we need to realize is that we are actually worth something. In Matthew 18:10-14 we find the parable of the lost sheep. In this parable the shepherd, Jesus, leaves the other ninety-nine sheep to go find the one that is lost. He says, “And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.” God rejoices when we return to Him. We are worth something to God. If you continue down to verse 14, it says,”So it is not the will of my Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” God values everyone, despite their background and nationality. He values us so much that He sent His only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us.
What does God value in us? In 1 Samuel 16 God is choosing his next appointed one. Choosing the new king is really important, this person is going to lead His nation. So, obviously God would be looking for certain characteristics in this person. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God values what our heart looks like more than what our outer appearance looks like. Sometimes we get made fun of because of how we look. People sometimes think that how you look represents what kind of person you are, but in reality it doesn’t. How you act and how you treat people is what shows the kind of person you are. That is what counts because that is the part that God cares about.
Matthew 19:16-22 records what we call the story of the rich, young ruler. A young man came to Jesus and wanted to know how to get eternal life. Jesus told him to follow the commandments, and the young man said he had done so since his youth. Jesus then tells him to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, and come follow Him. The young man went away saddened. The rich ruler became sad because he had great possessions and he didn’t want to give those up to follow Jesus. He was putting something above Jesus. There are several times in the Old Testament where God tells the nation of Israel to not put any other gods above Him because He is a jealous God. Sometimes, if we aren’t careful we can put what other people say and their opinions above what God says.
It does us no good to know something, but do nothing with that knowledge. Now we need to put it into practice, even though that can be hard at times. Most aspects of the Christian life have to do with other people, whether it’s our relationships with them or what we are teaching them. Our self-worth has to do with how we view ourselves. We need to view ourselves the same way God views us. God had Jesus die for us, so how can we say that something that is important to God actually isn’t important? We can’t because it wouldn’t make any sense. We also need to think about why the world tries to degrade our self-worth. In John 9:5, Jesus calls himself the light of the world. A couple of chapters before that, in John 3:19-21, John talks about how the world loves the darkness, but hates the light because the light exposes their wickedness.
When the world is whispering in your ear, telling you that you’re not pretty enough or smart enough, remember that it’s not about what they think about you. It’s that you are beautiful in God’s eyes. Take Jesus for example, He was and still is the best pattern for our lives. Yet the world hated and ridiculed Him. Draw strength from your brethren and those that came before us. Study God’s Word so that you will always be beautiful on the inside. When we do this we show that we are worth something because we know that our worth comes through our God.
By Re’Elle Crowell