I stood at the sink picking through a handful of frozen blueberries to pull out the good ones for my cereal. These blueberries were special. They were bagged and frozen right off the farm; sticks, dirt, leaves and all. This helped them retain the right-off-the-bush sweetness. Sorting and cleaning them takes effort
A co-worker walked in and watched my little process with a puzzled look on her face. “There has to be an easier way – that is not worth it,” she said as she shook her head in disbelief that I’d go through all that trouble for blueberries.
My co-worker saw blue-tinged fingers and a mess on the counter. I saw deliciousness.
As I looked down at my hands, the gentle whisper of the Lord nudged my spirit. Just as you see the stains on your fingers as worth the effort for delicious berries, so to do I see you and declare you worthy of the stain of my blood.
A seismic shift in my relationship with the Lord took place in that moment.
Until then, I joined most other Christians in believing that I was unworthy of Jesus’ sacrifice. I believed Him for my salvation and sought to live a life transformed by the Holy Spirit, but underlying that, I bought in to what I now believe is a lie – that I was unworthy.
We receive plenty of messages every day that tell us we are unworthy.
A forgotten birthday or anniversary
Canceled plans with a best friend
A phone call from our child’s school principal
The layoff notice
So many messages convincing us that we are unworthy of love, unworthy of time, unworthy of responsibility. Unworthy.
This is not what Jesus says to us. Jesus tells us that we are oh, so very worthy.
Does that sound prideful? It shouldn’t. Let’s not confuse being worthy and being deserving.
A “deserving” mindset believes we can make a claim to something because of our own actions, qualities, or situations. We believe we are entitled to something.
Let’s be clear. We do not deserve Jesus’ dying on the cross for us. There is nothing we do, or can do, that enables us to say we deserve God’s redeeming grace and gift of salvation. In fact, God’s word is pretty clear that we do not.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23 NIV)
“For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23a NIV)
Pretty soon the message that we do not deserve Christ’s sacrifice works its way into our hearts as “you aren’t worth it.” And then we start to equate ourselves as pond scum. Unworthy.
But we are worthy. Not because we say we are. But because Jesus says we are.
Deserving Jesus’ sacrifice and being worth Jesus’ sacrifice are not the same thing.
Deserving is how we view ourselves.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:6, 8 NIV)
In our oh-so-less-than perfect lives, where we mess up, say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, hurt other people, and even hurt ourselves, Jesus died for us. In a situation where we deserve eternal death, and even before we first receive that undeserved gift of grace, Jesus has already looked down from the cross and said:
You are worth the stain of my blood.
Far from making me prideful, Jesus deeming me worth laying his life down for so that I can know the fullness of a relationship with God humbles me.
Certainly there are days I mess up, or feel beat up, and I question Jesus’ judgment. Days I don’t feel worthy. There will be days where the messages you receive will seek to confuse deserving with worth and will try to convince you that you too are not worthy.
Jesus will never tell us that we are unworthy. I need to know this. And so do you.
Christians, we must stop calling ourselves unworthy. There are people in our lives who are believing the messages they are hearing that they are not worthy. They are beaten down and defeated. This is not the message of Jesus. When the world beats us up, the most powerful and loving witness we can share is this:
Jesus is your beholder. He has already declared you worthy.