“Jesus found zero self-worth in what he did on earth, but he gave 100% of himself in all he did.”
My friend Mike and I get together often to pray for one another, and it seems like every time, he says a phrase that is gold. Recently I was sharing about my struggle with finding self worth in my work. Then he laid down this insight that drives him insane about Jesus.
How in the world did Jesus do that? How do you give yourself whole-heartedly to something without finding some sense of worth in it? Is it possible to give your heart to something or to someone, but to not find your self worth in it or them? I suppose that is the mystery of Christian marriage – we give ourselves wholly to someone else, but still find our self worth in Christ. Spouses die. Spouses sin. Either way, it’s hard to wrap my mind around.
Thinking of this concept helps me understand (a little) how Jesus was able to gather crowds of thousands of followers, and then send them away. When he fed the 5000 who wanted to crown him king at the moment, he sent them away so that he could spend the evening in prayer. When the crowd came back the next day, Jesus used the most profuse language (eat my flesh and drink my blood) to make sure the crowd would never return. Granted they were primarily following Jesus because he fed them, but sheesh! What would make a person do that?
There’s something about Jesus’ relationship with the father that trumped everything.
I sometimes struggle with finding my self worth in my job. I don’t find a whole lot of worth in necessarily being pastor. But I have a deep desire to be seen as a leader, as a team-builder, as an entrepreneur. I honestly have the faces of a few people that I look up to in my head. I often contemplate what they think of me, what they see in me, what value they place on me as a pastor. For the past few months I’ve been doing some counseling, and I’ve come to realize the power of how I think others view my success in my job. It has become an idol in my life. It’s not bad to want success or recognition. It’s not a sin to want others to have a positive view of me. It’s when I elevate those opinions (or even my perception of those opinions) above those of my heavenly father.
Jesus found his self worth in his father. I believe this understanding gave him extraordinary boldness in his teaching and his actions. In the gospels, you never see Jesus becoming frustrated with what he’s doing. He is often frustrated with the crowds, the religious leaders and his disciples, but never in himself. He did the father’s will. He knew who he was. He knew what he was saying was true. That could come off as arrogant I suppose. But for Jesus it was certainty. He didn’t need to worry about what other people thought of him. He didn’t need to even worry about whether other people would follow him or not! He was completely secure in his identity.
I would think that such security, boldness, self-assurance would make Jesus the most successful person ever. Instead he was crucified!
Jesus really doesn’t make sense sometimes. No really. Jesus does not compute. He was completely and utterly secure, so he let himself be murdered?!?
Alright, let’s look at the other side of the quote. Jesus gave all of himself in everything he did. I want this. Whatever I do, I want to pour myself into it. I don’t think most people like to half-do anything. We want to find something so worthwhile that we’d almost die for it. Sometimes we say that we would. Jesus did! I just can’t understand how you avoid finding your self-worth in something that you pour your soul into. Is there a switch that I haven’t pulled yet, because that really comes naturally to me.
I think Jesus was able to give himself completely to whatever he did without finding his self worth in it, because he found his self worth completely in his Father. There’s no new revelation there, and you’ve probably heard the importance of Jesus’ relationship with the Father before. But what I want to highlight is that he received his self worth completely from his Father. If I’m honest, I often find mine in family, hobbies, my job, my friends…as well as in God. Jesus didn’t find part of his self worth in more than one place.
One point of reference gave Jesus the ability to give himself completely in what he did.