Yesterday we were thinking about how valuing others, with their differences to us, can increase our love and unity in the Body of Christ. Today it occurred to me that, paradoxically, I can do that best when I value myself too.
This is probably similar to the command Jesus gave to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. Interestingly He called this the second greatest commandment after the one to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ Matthew 22:38,39. This is not narcissistic but a wise understanding of human nature. If I don’t feel good about me then it is hard to release blessings over you. It is hard to love others if we don’t think much of ourselves, and in the same way it is hard to value others if I don’t value myself.
Sometimes we can think that being self effacing, or self critical is a sign of humility, but while we are encouraged ‘clothe ourselves with humility towards one another’ 1 Peter 5:5, this is not meant to be an abasing of ourselves or an excuse for having poor self esteem. Interestingly when I feel good about myself, I am better placed to accept correction and advice with humility. I can be less defensive, and I will also find it easier to be less critical or blaming of others.
When it comes to accepting and valuing myself, Psalm 139 is a good place to start. If I can agree with God and thank Him that, ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’, then I am well on the way to appreciating my own gifting, personality and talents. The psalmist is full of praise to God saying ‘you’re works are wonderful, I know that full well’. Psalm 139:14. Perhaps less often quoted are the verses which follow. He writes ‘how precious to me are your thoughts O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand, when I awake I am still with you’, Psalm 139:17,18.
A more literal translation would read ‘how precious are your thoughts concerning me’. So how wonderful is that? Not only did God design and create your body, the most complex and awe inspiring created thing that exists, but He has had, and is having, loads and loads of thoughts about you. He has His plans for you with your talents, your gifting, the skills you have learnt and your anointing from Him. God is thinking about you and me all the time, looking to see us grow and blossom as we serve Him with everything He has put within us.
As we thank God for all that we have, with which to bless our family and friends, our brothers and sisters and the world, we will appreciate ourselves more and more and also I believe receive more from God Himself. In the slightly scary parable of the talents, Jesus is I believe encouraging us His followers to exercise our faith and invest, develop and use the talents He has given to each one of us. There is no room here for false humility, fear of failure or even a wrong fear of making a mistake by being presumptuous. Luke 19:11-26.
The Lord wants us to recognize and enjoy the gifts and talents that He has given us and use them well. I also believe that if we are faithful in the little we may feel that we have, then our gifting and anointing will grow, as will our skills and life experience. Luke 19:17. We will then also find it easier to be content with who we are and to be positive with our brothers and sisters, giving them every encouragement to use their gifts and talents too, without feeling jealous or threatened by their success in any way.
So today let us thank God for who He has made us to be, thank Him for the thoughts and plans He has concerning us. Let us thank Him for every opportunity to use our talents and to step out in faith. I believe that then we will grow in confidence, and be happy to offer ourselves in His service to the benefit of others, and we will also find that what we have multiplies, as the Lord finds us faithful and entrusts us with more.