What is self-worth? It is simply the sense of one’s own value or worth.
I’m cautious about writing about self-worth because the cultural understanding of self-worth is based primarily on having a greater admiration and esteem for your self. This brand of self-worth is actually narcissism. There is a great difference between being a narcissist and having a true sense of value.
Narcissus was a tragic figure in Greek mythology. As a young man he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. So absorbed by himself, he was unable to leave and died from fixation on self.
A narcissist gets gratification from their own sense of value.
A person with true self-worth gets gratification from adding value to others.
4 ways to begin to elevate your sense of self-worth:
1. Recognize how your sense of identity may be flawed.
It is important to understand the cycle of how our identity and sense of worth gets developed. Proverbs 27:21 tells us that, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, and a man is valued by what others say of him.” In other words, our identity (our sense of who we are, how valuable we are) is formed as we grow up based on how others treat us and what they say about us.
By the time you start school you have begun to form a sense of identity
How you view yourself then shapes how you interact with others:
Your attitudes, words and actions begin to shape how others view you.
How others view you shapes how they treat you – which ultimately reinforces how you view yourself.
Here is the challenge:
In our sinful, fallen world, treated us based on a distorted sense of their own identity. They brought their baggage and projected it onto us. (i.e. Abused man tends to abuse his own children – Numbers 14:18)
As a result, we often develop a sense of identity that far from the truth and far from what God intended for our lives.
So what do we do?
2. Reject your old identity and the lies on which it was built
For many, the identity they grew up accepting has nothing to do with the identity that Jesus died to give them. What they think about themselves is in many ways the opposite of what God actually thinks about them in Christ. Do you think the way God does about your life? Consider the following:
God sees you as perfectly forgiven. Not just up to this moment in time, but for all time. He placed all your sins on Jesus and judged them on the cross – All of them! That’s why there is no condemnation for you in Christ Jesus. There is no guilt, stain or lingering stigma of shame.
God sees you as precious. He redeemed you, bought you back with a price – and what an extraordinary price! We tend to measure value based on what someone is willing to pay for it. God gave His Son to buy you back! How valuable does that make you in the eternal scope of things?
God sees you as righteous because He imputed Jesus’ righteousness to you by grace. God reckons you perfectly righteous in Christ. That is why we can boldly come to His throne of grace.
God sees you as His son or daughter. He has adopted you into His family and bestowed on you the highest privilege in the universe by calling you His child! You have the remarkable opportunity daily of coming freely to Him as “Abba, Daddy!”
God sees you as blessed! He blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ. You lack nothing in terms of His blessings.
Gal. 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
2 Cor. 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Eph. 4:20-24 – But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
3. Receive your new identity in Christ!
When we are talking about self-worth, we are talking about value not merit. We are talking about what has been given, not what has been earned, about what has been imparted, not what is intrinsic. We know in ourselves, no good thing dwells, but what God has given me in Christ is of priceless.
Since my new nature in Christ is priceless, my life has unimaginable value!
Genesis 1:26-27 – This is the true source of your identity. You were created in the image of God. God intends for us to get our sense of identity based on what He thinks about us and how He treats us.
John 8:31-36 – Abiding in the truth produces truthful thinking. Truthful thinking sets you free to be the person God intended for you to be.
Romans 8:28-29 – I begin to filter life through the lens of God’s work in and through me. He is not limited by the things I used to be limited by.
Here is the Biblical way our identity and self-worth is formed:
- We understand how God sees us
- We start to treat others better than we normally would
- We reinforce the best in others, looking to give affirmation and acceptance
- This changes how they view God and draws them to Him
This is what Paul communicated in 2 Corinthians 5:16-18:
- Since we have a new identity in Christ we don’t esteem others based on their old nature.
- We understand that if you are in Christ you are new person
- In fact everything about your old identity has passed away and all things have become new.
- This is all from God who has a give you a new purpose along with your new nature.
This leads to the fourth step:
4. Reach for a purpose that’s worthy of your identity in Christ!
The greatest indicator of your sense of self-worth is not how you feel about your life, but what you do with your life!
It’s time to elevate what we envision as possible for our lives and see our potential based on the new life that God has given us in Christ. We have unimaginable value in Christ and therefore can bring untold value for His glory to the world around us.
Please don’t let your life be a bland, boring collection of mediocre moments.
Instead, let it be a profound & powerful demonstration of the reality of Christ in you!