18/09/2019 - Matthew 10:31 '‘So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.’ (NLT)
Time and again, in talking with people, a simple truth keeps coming through, and it is this: our whole lives are powerfully influenced by how we feel about ourselves. Everything tracks back to it. It influences how we interpret events, how we view people, how we hear what is said, how we communicate and how we present ourselves. It determines our confidence levels, whether we are defensive and how we use our extrovert. Feeling low value readily translates into false guilt or into ‘I am a bad person and so bad things should happen to me.’
I know many of you have heard me ask this question on courses and in conversations, but it is worth asking again. At this point in time, on a scale of 0-10, what score would you give yourself for what you feel your value to be? You might be feeling good about yourself right now but try and give a score that reflects what you really feel about yourself - beneath the surface.
Remember the distinction between ‘intrinsic value’ (who we are in essence) and ‘functional value’ (how well we do at any given time)? What we feel about ourselves is deeper than how we perform. It is that ‘deep down’ feeling that we get in touch with when we get something wrong. What do you think about yourself when you make a mistake, someone corrects you, or you hurt someone? ‘Useless’, ‘bad person’, ‘pathetic’, ‘hopeless’? So, what was your score? Are you happy with it? If not, what can you do about it?
We need to know what we are aiming at. An illustration might help. You are having a loft clear-out. Amongst all the junk, there is an old canvas that you assumed was a picture passed down through the generations for sentimental reasons. So out it goes into the back yard to await the skip. A neighbour who knows a bit about art happens to be walking his dog and spots this canvas leaning against the wall. He takes a closer look and knocks on your door. ‘If what I suspect is correct, that picture might be worth something – in fact, it might be extremely valuable.’ Now your attitude to that old canvas changes dramatically. Up to that point, it didn’t matter that it was covered with cobwebs and grime. If the heavens had opened and it was soaked by heavy rain, you wouldn’t have cared. Now you rush out to bring it into the lounge, you protect it, treat it with respect. What has changed? Nothing – except your view of that painting. The painting hasn’t changed. Your view of it has. If you don’t value yourself, you will treat yourself disrespectfully. If you accept your true value, you will think and act differently towards yourself and others.
We have value because God made us. We have value because, even though we make choices that are not consistent with the value God has given us, he gave up his Son so we could have the consequences and effects of that failure cancelled out. We need never doubt our value. How do we replace our old negative view of ourselves with God’s view of us? Here are a few practical tips. Watch out for excessive apologising. Say sorry when you make a mistake, but you don’t need to apologise for existing. Watch out for those negative thoughts that go through your head about yourself. Don’t let them go unchallenged. They are impostors and don’t line up with the truth. When those thoughts pop up, take them as signposts to a different view and choose to believe the truth about yourself. Do the same with negative statements. See how many times today you apologise, you think a negative thought about yourself, you come out with a personal put-down. Don’t accept any of them. Our verse tells us the value that God puts on us. If he cares about what happens even to a sparrow – and you could buy two of them for a penny - how much more does he care for us because ‘you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows'. Who are we going to believe?