1 Timothy 1:6-12
1 Peter 2:4-10
How do you define your idea of self-worth? Is it, how much money you have? Your address?
Or maybe I should ask: on what do you & I base our concept of self-esteem? Maybe that’s a better question. I know it’s stereotypical: but lots of women build their worth around their family... while men build their self-esteem around their careers/jobs.
Of course, some people just ooze self-esteem (it just makes me sick)... they have no problem with confidence, what-so-ever. But most of us normal people struggle at times...
The fact is... we all tend to develop our idea of self-worth and self-esteem... by being loved, appreciated and accepted!
And there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s natural to long to be loved, appreciated and accepted... we all want and need to be loved, appreciated and accepted...
In fact, most of us spend the majority of our lives trying to earn the love, appreciation and acceptance of others.
I mean, think about it... it begins when we're young... when we're just children. We seek the approval and acceptance of our parents... and eventually our teachers or other adult leaders, coaches, etc...
We eventually seek the approval and respect of people we admire; people we look up to. Maybe some leader in our chosen profession. We may long to be accepted by our co-worker... our neighbors... a friend...
But the need for acceptance... the need to be included... seems to be a fairly universal, innate desire that comes from deep within the core of who we are.
Of course, this desire (longing) to be accepted drives us to do all kinds of things. It can influence the kind of clothes you wear, the kind of car you drive, the kind of house you buy, even the career you choose. It can actually be one of the most influential factors in our lives.
I think most of us would agree that people do some crazy stuff in the hopes of being accepted? Peer pressure certainly plays a role. As a kid, did you ever want to be accepted so badly by your peers... that if someone said, “I dare you to do it!” you did it... even if it was something stupid?
You did it because your desire to be accepted overruled the notions of common sense and any detrimental outcome. In other words, the desire to be liked, and accepted, and included... sometimes vetoes the reality of knowing how much trouble you’re possibly creating for yourself, by taking the dare!
How many of you ever played kick-ball in grade school, or elementary school? Did your teachers or coaches ever choose "captains" - who in turn were allowed to choose who played on their team? If you experienced that, do you remember how great it felt to be picked? Remember how bad you felt when they got down to the last two or three and you still weren’t chosen?
We love the feeling of being accepted. Being chosen does tremendous things for your self-esteem. And that’s why our scripture from 1 Peter is so very relevant...
“...you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).
“You are a chosen people” (NIV). That ought to fill every single person in this Sanctuary with joy! It should be like a shot of adrenaline... a boost to our confidence, and self-worth! Christ has accepted you - not based on your performance... not based on popularity... not based on height nor appearance... not based on your worthiness... or something that you earned, or something that you deserve. God simply says, “I chose you.”
Of course, you and I have to receive that gift... we have to acknowledge the calling of Christ in order for it to be effectual in our lives. But realizing that Christ has chosen you... that Christ has accepted you... is the foundation upon which you and I (through the power of God’s Spirit) build a healthy, growing, productive life of faith.
You don’t have to earn God’s acceptance; in fact you CANNOT earn it... you and I can’t be worthy enough, or good enough, or smart enough! You don’t have to prove yourself. God in Christ, chose you. AND He chose you & me, for a purpose... he chose us to declare his praises!
To declare something is to take a definitive stand... as in to “make a declaration!” Do you remember a little document called the “Declaration of Independence?” Declarations are kind-of a big deal...
God hasn’t chosen us to be a “wishy-washy” people... but to declare, with confidence, the praises of the God who delivered us from darkness, into his light. Our first scripture lesson reminds us that “the Spirit of God... does not make us timid, but gives us power” (2 Tim. 1:7)... power to do and say things that bring honor and glory to God.
And this “theme of identity” - that proclaims our worth and self-esteem is found in Christ, and in being chosen by Christ, is found throughout the scriptures.
Scripture like 1 John 3:1-2, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the children of God. And that’s what we are!”
And Galatians 3:27-28, (which is one of my favorites) “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (you’ve put on the identity of Christ, in-other-words). There is neither Jew not Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The sad truth is... even today... even among faithful Christians... we often struggle with truly knowing who and Whose we are! We struggle with our identity in Christ. We struggle with our self-worth... and with acceptance issues. Because we listen to who and what the world says we are... instead of trusting God’s Word, and who it says we are.
We feel like we still have to prove ourselves. We’re still trying to win the approval of others...
The good news is: God has chosen you! And our identity in Christ... knowing who and Whose you are... removes that constant, nagging, detrimental lack of self- esteem and lack of self-worth. YOU belong to Christ. You and I have been covered by his grace and filled with his Spirit.
You don’t need another person’s approval to be happy! There are 6 billion people in the world. And if a couple of people don’t like you... who cares?
As a part of God’s family, you have been accepted by the only ONE who ultimately matters. God!
“...you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”