If you hear the phrase, ‘because you’re worth it!’ you probably think immediately of the well-known adverts which have the idea of ‘worth’ as the key message and the reason that you must buy the product. The idea of using ‘worth’ as a selling point is a clever one because it plays on our need to be valued and to value ourselves. We need to know we are worth something – preferably a lot! We seek to be valued in our families, in our workplaces, in our neighbourhoods. So, if there is a product that we can buy that promises to make us feel valued, then many people will go for it.
The problem is that as we get older, we may lose many of the things that we have felt give us value. We retire from a good job where we were respected, we are forced to give up sports we used to excel at and our academic ability may be challenged by loss of memory or concentration. We may ask whether we still have value if we are housebound, if we lose our independence and are forced to rely on others or if we can no longer remember things like we used to.
The good news for Christians is that our value in God’s sight never changes, whatever our age or circumstances. This is because it is not based on anything we have done or what we have achieved and it is not dependent on how much value others put upon us or even how much value we put on ourselves. Instead, it focuses on our identity in Christ and the value he puts on us. This is not something we should just turn to when all else fails, it is not a second best option but it is something we should all revel and rejoice in.
This was illustrated a few years ago by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was being interviewed after it was discovered that his father was not the person he had been brought up by. He explained how he felt about the unexpected news: “There is no existential crisis, and no resentment against anyone. My identity is founded in who I am in Christ”. What he said was brilliant and brave and of course, true. But do we truly believe that our worth rests on our status as children of God and the fact that we were chosen by God ‘before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him’ (Ephesians 1:4)?
Do these truths actually have an impact on our view of ourselves and our view of others? We need to believe these facts in our hearts and keep reminding ourselves of them. This is true whatever age we are. Maybe it is easier to realise these truths as we get older when we lose some of the things we are tempted to rely on, such as job, health, achievements? Maybe we are given the opportunity to focus more on the idea that our value is coming from our identity in Christ? Of course, it’s not that we need rely on Christ because we have nothing else left to rely on, but rather that we should always have relied on him, and now we have been given the opportunity to do so more and more.
I often listen to Christian music when I’m driving and one of my favourite songs is about being a child of God. One line that particularly strikes me is one where it is affirmed to God that ‘I am what You say I am’. This line is repeated many times and is the sort of line that goes round and round in my head all day. And that is good, because it is true – we are what God says we are- and He says that we are His children. John makes this clear when he writes, ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ (I John 3:1) That is the most important thing about us and it is where we should put our identity and find our value.
It is worth mentioning that not only does knowing that our identity is in Christ benefit us, but it also sets us free to love others. ‘Do you see the difference we could make in the world if we accept who we are in Christ? Then we can serve rather than always looking to be served. Then we can take the lowly place to do the menial task joyfully. We now know we have nothing to prove and therefore no need for all our acts of service to be noted by others. It is life – and world – changing to know who you are in Christ.’ (Peter Maiden, Building on the Rock (Monarch Books, 2016) p. 90)
So, the good news is that while we may be old, we may be retired, we may not be able to do things we used to do and society and other people may look down on us, we can know that our worth and value to Christ will never change. We need to keep focusing on the fact that the reason we are ‘worth it’ is based on Christ’s love for us and on our status as God’s children. There is nothing that can beat that or take it away from us.
- How much do you think people feel less valued as they grow older?
- Where do you put your identity? Job? Looks? Family? Achievements?
- What practical steps can you take to focus more on the fact that your identity is in Christ?
- What signs are there that we have put our identity in Christ?