It was named Hurricane Katrina, and it was a life-changing storm. One day you’re living your normal life going about your normal activities and the next day you are destitute. No job. No boss. No office. No employees. No income. No cash. No ATM. No home. No condo. No address. No make-up, comb or brush. No car nor bike. No clothes nor shoes. No appliances. No TV. No computers nor laptops. No school nor teachers. No fitness club. No church nor pastor. No assistance. Nothing but the clothes on your back. Who are you now?
Thirty-four years prior to Hurricane Katrina, a young Jesse Jackson led the children of Sesame Street in the recitation of “I am somebody.” That simple poem, with it’s free-ranging verses, spoke to the need of self-worth regardless of one’s station in life. That message is as sorely needed today as it was back then.
The subject of self-esteem is not as cut and dried as it appears on the surface. The inward satisfaction that comes from accomplishments is a positive thing. We all agree that everyone should have a healthy measure of self-respect. We also all agree that everyone has value whether it’s realized or not. The question for this week’s discussion on the Humility of the Wise is where that sense of value comes from.
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Psalms 8:5
The Bible, as in all areas of life, is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. It speaks to the issue of self-esteem. Surprisingly, it says little about the praise of man. Bible characters, including our favorite heroes, are shown to be people of various flaws and shortcomings.
Over and over again we hear in the Bible a consistent refrain that our sense of value must be deeper and higher than accomplishments, talents and other typical barometers of esteem. Here is just a sampling. The first is from The Apostle Paul:
“In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 2 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Corinthians 4:7
The writer of Proverbs 27:1, 2 says “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.”
Jesus, in addressing the age-old question of survival and personal value, points his hears to a deeper understanding of their worth:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Luke 12:22-24
Our value and worth can only be properly measured by the price it took to redeem us from a life of hopelessness, sin and death. The price paid for us was not determined by our financial net worth, GPA or any other designation devised by man. Paul explains it best in Romans 5:7-9:
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
This core truth of the undeserved love of God is what should guide the Christian in his attitudes of life. Shunning vices both inside and outside of our bodies will not be solely driven by the current norms of society. Grasping the knowledge that the God who spun universes into place by a thought, chose to give the most precious gift of all, His life, to give us an opportunity at eternal life, will cause a change in behavior.
The price paid for you and me was too high to allow ourselves to engage in behavior that is demoralizing and unprofitable. The price paid for us was too high to allow ourselves to be content in not developing ourselves to our fullest potential so that we may be of greater service to Him. The price paid for us was too high to allow us to return anything but excellence in all that we do.
I am somebody! I am God’s child!
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does humility mean to you?
- What, if any, is the difference between self-esteem and self-respect?
- What does Paul mean in Philippians 2:3 when he instructs “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”?
- Is humility a sign that a person does not appreciate enough what they bring to the table? Why yes or no?
- Jesus stated in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Why is meekness such a highly valued characteristic?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: Not every disciple of Christ has the gift of humility. Explain your answer.
We close this week with some wise and cautionary words from the book of Jeremiah:
“This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!