There's much discussion these days about self-love, self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-actualization, self-identity, self-concept, etc. All of these ideas have merit only to the extent that they are rooted in God's Word. So what is biblical self-worth? Though the Bible does not use the specific term, "self-worth", it does thoroughly address the root issues: identity and the heart.
Biblical self-worth begins with understanding how you were designed. We are all created with a God-shaped hole. God made us for fellowship with him. Life with God is more than just about getting to heaven--"pie in the sky". It's actually "steak on your plate!", something you can get your teeth into right now in this life. Eternity begins now! The reason why the supernatural realm is so appealing to us is because we humans are eternal begins. What is more--God wants us to spend eternity with him. From the beginning, God intended that mankind would be centered on him. He warned Adam and Eve that if they cut themselves off from him by making themselves out to be gods, they would die--and this is what happened. (Genesis 3) Mankind then lost fellowship with God and become separated from him. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
But wait! There's good news! Because of his great love for us, God put in motion his amazing plan of redemption, one that would satisfy his justice and restore us and all of creation to what he originally intended. He gave up his only Son--Jesus--to be offered as a sacrifice on our behalf. Death could not hold him, though. He's alive, and he holds out to us an offer that is unbelievably generous. He wants to adopt us! This is a complete change of identity for us. Instead of being our own gods, we can be his children! We can be close to him again. Not only that--as his adopted sons and daughters, we are given an imperishable inheritance, (Ephesians [1:11]), and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians [1:13]).
When God adopts us (with our permission) we become his children, and thus are transferred from one kingdom into another. We move from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light, which Jesus referred to as "The Kingdom of Heaven." That's true biblical self-worth! How can this happen? What a relief to know that there's nothing we need to do to earn the right to be God's child. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Jesus said the only way anyone can enter the Kingdom of Heaven is by being "born again." (John 3:3) That happens as soon as you receive him. John [1:12] says, “but to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Receive your new identity--a child of God.
To become God's adopted son or daughter, you must first acknowledge you are a sinner, realizing that your sin has separated you from God; then simply accept what Jesus did for you on the cross. He made full payment for all your sin through his death, and rose again so you could have new life. It’s nothing you can work for; it’s a free gift. (Ephesians 2:8). And the moment you receive that gift, the record of your sins will be erased, and you will be adopted in God’s family! So, if you’ve never taken that step, but you’re ready now—here’s a prayer you can pray right where you are:
“Lord Jesus, I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life. Please forgive me. I now turn from everything I know is wrong. Thank you that you died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free. I know you are alive, and I now receive your offer of forgiveness and the gift of your Spirit. Thank you for giving me new life. Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer, you are now born again. (John 3) You’ve just discovered your true identity. That's biblical self-worth! You are now adopted into God’s family! Whereas, before you were outside of Christ, realize that you are now IN CHRIST. That’s your true identity. The Bible calls that a mystery—something too wonderful for our finite minds to comprehend. But so true!
Remember, your old identity is gone. It’s dead, never to return. Galatians [2:20] says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Affirm your new identity often by making these 10 declarations from Ephesians 1:
- I have grace and peace from God, my Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
- I was chosen, destined before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless.
- I was adopted in love into God’s family.
- I’ve been redeemed by the blood of Christ.
- I’ve been forgiven of my trespasses.
- Grace has been lavished upon me in all wisdom and insight.
- I’ve obtained an inheritance and it’s guaranteed!
- I’ve been sealed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
- God has given me great power and authority.
Your next step is to get baptized. (Matthew [28:19]-20; Acts [8:36]-38) This is the public confession of your faith. It’s where you officially make known to everyone that you have turned from your old ways, and you are following Christ now. Find a local church where you can be baptized, worship God, and grow in your faith through sound Bible teaching, fellowship with other believers.
Remember that your new identity as God's child doesn't give you a license to do whatever you want. Remember what you were saved from. There are books in heaven (and on earth) that chronicle countless stories of people in all walks of life and culture whose lives have been transformed by God. Now your story has been recorded as well! Show your gratefulness to God for saving you by living in dependence upon him very day. Do acts of kindness for others because of your love for God and for them, not because you are trying to earn God’s approval. You already have it!
Biblical self-worth is something that each of us must maintain lest we drift away from the truth. (Hebrews 2:1) We can't just row our boat out into the middle of the lake and go to sleep. It takes constant effort and repeated choices. More than anything else, it is the heart that needs continual tending.
Guard your heart
Now that you are God's child, it's time to grow up! This will require a good tutor. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. He is your helper, teacher, and guide. (John [14:26]) With his help, you can daily guard your heart.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Scripture also makes it clear that whatever is important to us is connected to our heart. (Matthew 6:21). In fact, every good or bad thought or action originates in the heart. Your heart thrives when it's treated well, and can be damaged by ill treatment. At some point in our lives, we have all been hurt by either something or someone. When these things happen, we are left to deal with negative emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, fear, worry, resentment, or self-pity. If ignored, these emotions can pile up, causing an even bigger problem. The answer, of course, isn't to focus on the emotion itself, but on what is happening on a root level--in the heart. For example, ever notice that it doesn't help to focus on our anger when we are angry? That just adds more fuel to the fire! Think of negative emotions as warning lights on the dashboard. Those lights appear as so that we will respond and address the source of the problem. God allows us to experience negative human emotions so we will bring it all to him and receive all the help we need. Here are a number of different ways that we can steward our hearts according to God's Word:
There are more benefits to your your salvation than you thought. Salvation is more than entrance to heaven when you die.
Now that you've received your new identity in Christ, you can rest. You don't have to struggle to perform. Focus only on the work that God has for you at the moment. Since that's his "yoke", it will be easy because you're doing it with him! "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew [11:28]-30
Biblical self-worth is about confidence in God. You can be certain that, since you were designed by God, he also has a wonderful plan for your life. "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 1[39:13]-14
Always remember that you are royalty. You are who God says you are. That's biblical self-worth! "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."1 Peter 2:9. (See also Proverbs [14:26])
Everyone is searching for love. As God's child, you know you are loved perfectly by him; and because of this, you can truly love others. "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John [4:19]-21
Grace is not a short prayer we pray before eating; it's God-power. Grace is the strength God gives us for every situation we encounter in life. Moreover, it works better when we know we can't do it without him! "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Make a habit of regularly praying for grace. It doesn't come usually come automatically because that would negate our daily walk of dependence on God. Paul even opened his letters to the churches by praying grace over them. (I Corinthians 1:3)