I recently read a magazine report of an interview with a comedian, in which the comedian openly shared how he ‘feeds on applause’ and is ‘deeply fearful and anxious of ever running out of jokes’. During the same week there was a TV interview with a celebrity chef, who said, ‘If I ever took my chef’s whites off and never put them on again, I would be nothing … no-one.’
How sad that both these talented men stake their whole identity in what they do, and their worth and value on the approval of others. How will they cope when their popularity fades or sickness strikes? Yes, their job titles are ‘comedian’ and ‘chef’ and they are successful in their professions, but aren’t we all much more than our job titles, and surely our worth can’t be utterly dependent on the approval of others?
As Christians we know that through the blood of Jesus shed at Calvary, we are children of God (1 John 3:1). That’s where our worth is. We’re valuable because, first we were created by Almighty God, and then He sent Jesus to pay the highest price to restore us back to Himself – simply because He loves us so very much. Yet, in spite of this amazing truth, how many of us are like the comedian and the chef: still trying to find our significance outside of God? We can be so locked in the treadmill of striving, even doing ‘the works of the kingdom’, that perhaps we don’t even realise that we’re seeking our worth and value in temporal things and the approval of men, that can never truly satisfy. In fact, when our focus is on these things we’re robbed of experiencing the real wonder, joy and fulfilment of just being His children.
The people in the world around us aren’t fooled either by the words we speak … when our actions don’t match up. The action of living our lives on a treadmill of striving, speaks louder than our words that proclaim a God of love, joy and peace. So, how do we come to that wonderful place of rest and contentment in who we are in Him and in His acceptance of us, so that everything we do flows from there and witnesses the freedom we have in Christ to those around us, who so desperately need it?
For me, it has been (and still is) a journey of recognition and repentance of choosing my own ways of trying to meet my God-given needs of worth and value and a sense of security. And then asking Him to help me allow Him – the one we call the all-sufficient one - to truly be the one who satisfies my deepest needs. I haven’t found a formula for this! But I have found it’s a balance of many things: it includes personalising His Word: taking it in as what He says to me personally - actively receiving the truth of His love. It is also looking outside myself - spending time with others, both giving to and receiving from them. It includes work – being healthily fulfilled through an honest day’s work! And it includes allowing myself time to enjoy the things I like … family and friends, creative activities, gardening, music, enjoying the beauty of His creation – the desires and delights that God wove into me when He made me.
Through all these things I find He works to meet my inner needs. I can apply an Elastoplast – a temporary ‘fixit’ of striving and trying to earn others’ approval, but He brings the real knowing of our worth and value, the deep sense of security and peace that speaks of Him to the world around us who desperately need Him too.
Prayer: Father God, I’m sorry for the times when I have looked to other sources – even ‘the works of the kingdom’ to try and meet my own needs to be accepted and valued, and to feel secure. Please help me to let go of my own fixits and to look to you and listen to you for the ways you want to affirm to me that I am your child, and to help me really know that place of acceptance and true security in your embrace. May my life become one that truly witnesses your love to those around me, and through which your name is glorified through me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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