Is Self Worth a Biblical Concept? (Part 2)
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said the following: “I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to ourselves.”
Now, please, allow me to qualify that statement before you shut me out. As was mentioned in my previous article, I believe that chronic issues often have medical solutions. If someone is experiencing chronic anxiety, manic depression, bipolar disorder or other such issues; then medical treatment is obviously necessary.
But how do we, as believers, approach suffering and poor mental health when medical intervention is not necessary? Again Llloyd-Jones says that the problem is when we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to ourselves. In my own personal battle with mental health, I’ve found the most beneficial thing for me is to preach to myself. I need the promises of God. I need to find my identity in what the Scriptures say.
SPIRITUAL CREATION AND SELF-WORTH
In my previous article, I highlighted self-worth in light of Material Creation. Being a unique creation, made in the image of God, places upon me an intrinsic worth. This is not a call to self-service, but a call to be mindful of our individual worth. But what about as a born-again Christian? What does being a regenerate individual say about my self-worth?
Here are a few sermons that I periodically preach to myself:
I have been recreated in Christ
This is quite possibly the most important message that I can preach to myself. In the book His Image My Image, Josh McDowell articulates these very truths: “The truest thing about ourselves is what the Bible says.”
It is important to remind myself that my identity is not found in my sufferings or my prosperity; in the good and the bad of life. Culture, circumstances and even feelings change. As a born-again individual, where is my identity found?
Colossians 3v1-4 says “If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory.”
God made mankind in His image. However, when mankind turned away from God to serve self, that image was marred. This is what we call the fall of man. It was a comprehensive fall. Human-life, animal-life, plant-life: everything was affected by the Fall… especially mankind. Sickness, sorrow, evil and death exist because of mankind’s cooperate forfeiting of God and all of the blessings that accompany His perfect presence. Indeed, mental illness and other forms of poor mental health only exist in mankind because the human race (as a whole) has turned away from its Creator. Suffering is a sad reminder of the fall of man.
Yet, God has recreated believing Christians, giving them an identity that is unconditionally rooted in the eternal Son of God.
When I repented of my sin and trusted Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, I died. Not Matt Green as a soul, but Matt Green as a sinner. That doesn’t mean that I never sin anymore, but that Christ experienced the fulness of all of God’s wrath for me. By His inexplicable grace, God raised me up and recreated me in the image of His Son. Now, as Scripture says, I am hidden in Christ.
Now and for all of eternity Christ is my truest reality. I can never not be identified as belonging to Him. Colossians 3v9-10 says “...you have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” Everything around me (even my thoughts) may change; but my identity is settled. I belong to Jesus. This will never change. It can never change.
As a new creation in Christ, I possess added value and meaning
In the same book, Josh McDowell goes on to say, “A healthy self-image is being committed to the truth of God’s estimation of you.”
What is God’s estimation of me? How can I determine what God thinks of me? The barometer of God’s love for me is given in God’s Word. For example, in Romans 8v31-35 God asks His children several rhetorical question to emphasise His great love for us:
- If God be for us, who can be against us?
- He who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
- Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies.
- Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
Some may wonder how anyone could even question the extent of God’s love. But they’ve likely never experienced truly intense suffering. Does God love me like I need? He loves us so much that He would resist the urge to spare His Son from the shame and misery of the Cross! And if He would give that which is most valuable (His Son) out of love for us, could there possibly be a limit or boundary to His love for us, His children? No.
He further expounds on this point in the next three verses of the chapter:
“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As I live and breathe in Christ alone, my heart and mind must be awakened to a precious truth; as a regenerate, re-created, born-again individual, there is an additional value upon my life. It’s not just an intrinsic value (as in Creation), it is a personal, proactive value that is incessantly expressed to me in acts of love by a loving God.
As a new creation in Christ, I can be at peace with who I am
Colossians 3v15-16 says “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
In this life, we have dark moments of suffering, loneliness and sadness. We will experience betrayal and abandonment. Without question, we will be disillusioned or disenchanted by someone or something that we believed we could trust in. We all carry around with us so much baggage.
I would like to heartily recommend a book to anyone who is suffering or is still dealing with the effects of suffering. Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Paul David Tripp has become truly impactful in my life. The following excerpts brought to my knees in worship.
After providing a list of ways that people suffer, Tripp writes, “[These sufferings] are all very difficult human experiences, but THEY DO NOT DEFINE YOU, and they must not be taken on as your identity.”
“What??” This was my audible response to reading these words for the first time. As a regenerate child of God, the question “Who am I?” should never be met with the answer, “A sufferer.” Yes, I may suffer, but I must never perceive my identity to rest in suffering. I must resist the temptation to reduce a unique creation in Christ to a mere sufferer. This very elementary thought has been very profound to me.
Tripp goes on to say, “If you are God’s child, you carry the full meaning of that identity with you no matter how hard life is and no matter how weak you feel… Embedded in your identity as a child of God are wonderful comforts, just the kind of comforts that every sufferer longs for…the comfort of God’s amazing right-here, right-now grace.”
Whilst I should never be content with my moral shortcomings, I can 100% be at peace with who I am in Christ. I can rest in the reality that I am His and He is mine. I can lift a thousand Hallelujahs to the One who loves me eternally, even in the midst of intense suffering. Often, the most impactful sermons we preach are the ones we preach to ourselves. I must preach these truths to myself, and do it with regularity.
Matt Green is Pastor of Blurton Baptist Church in Stoke-on-Trent. Matt was born and raised in the USA. Having trusted Christ at 19 years of age, he followed God's leading to train for ministry in Bible College, and was able to fulfil a summer-long internship in the UK. God eventually led Matt, his wife and two children back to the UK to serve full-time. They have now lived and served in the UK for eight years. Matt loves expository preaching/teaching, evangelism and discipleship. His favourite hobby is basketball.