Worthiness & Calling
What is the definition of worth? When speaking of a person’s character and not money, worth is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the value of something measured by its qualities or by the esteem in which it is held”, and “moral or personal value”. When employers look at potential employee candidates, they measure the value of that person’s skill, education, and overall quality he or she will bring to their company or team. In personal relationships, we tend to measure those we seek to have relationships with by the moral and personality alignment we feel with them. We ask ourselves if the relationship candidates are worth our time and investment. We even gauge our own self worth nearly every day, asking ourselves if we are good enough for a certain person or group, or to accomplish a particular task.
This concept also shows up in the spiritual realm. We look at other people and determine in our minds whether we believe they are worthy of God’s grace and forgiveness, and even if they are worth our time and investment. Not only do we gauge the worth of others, but we measure our own self-worth next to the complete and ultimate worthiness of God and of others whom we personally judge better meet God’s standards. Untold numbers of people who walk the earth and have heard the name of Jesus turn down his gift of grace, forgiveness, and eternal life because they feel unworthy. Others who haven’t even heard the good news of the gospel still feel the gaping hole inside themselves and realize their unworthiness and inability to fill it.
However, believers aren’t immune to the feeling of self-unworthiness. This often manifests as a shrinking away from volunteering for service opportunities in the church setting, or shying away from sharing the good news of Jesus with others in their circle of influence. It may even keep us from believing we can serve God as teachers, pastors, or missionaries. We beat ourselves up over how much we feel like we don’t know, or dwell on the mistakes and poor choices we have made in the past, and therefore feel like that justifies our rejection of stepping up to serve God and others.
So what is the truth? Are any of us worthy of God’s love? Are any of us worthy of answering a call to serve God in the local church or in a national or foreign mission setting? Are any of us worthy of the time and investment of others in the church? Though some may find it a hard concept to consider, no - not one person to ever walk the earth is worthy of these things. We all make mistakes and poor choices, and God’s standard is perfection. James 2:10 says that, “whoever keeps the whole law yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” We miss the mark of perfection with only one mistake. Only by the grace and mercy of God by faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ do any of us have worth. And that worth comes from Him, not us.
We find many examples in Scripture of people who believed in the living God but still felt unworthy of the tasks He laid before them. Think of Moses, who, while speaking to God in a burning bush, told God that he wasn’t good enough to go before Pharaoh and deliver the message to “let God’s people go” (Exodus 3:-4:13). He had killed someone and did not feel like he publically spoke very well. Why should anyone listen to him? Consider Gideon, who, when called by God to lead the people of Israel in battle against the Midianites, used the excuse that He was the youngest son of his family from the least tribe in Israel, and that no one would listen to him (Judges 6:11-40). He even requested God to prove that it was really Him calling him to this task! The prophet Elijah, though God had already used him to perform miraculous deeds in the sight of pagan nations, fell prey to depression and fear, and he no longer felt fit to even live, and said, “take my life, for I am not better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:1-4).
What did each of these people have in common? They all believed in the one true God, but they were relying on their own self-worth and abilities in the moment, and not on the Person from whom any worth comes. Alone, we can not accomplish much. But the beauty of the callings God gives us is that He doesn’t expect us to do them alone. Each and every time God called someone to a task in the Bible, He promised to be with them. The same is true for believers today. He told Moses that He would give him the words to speak. He told Gideon that He would be with him and assured him of victory. God had compassion on Elijah in his lowest moments and provided for his physical needs of food and rest, then Elijah arose strengthened by God’s provision and continued in the job God gave him to do.
It is true that sometimes we may feel inadequate to what God asks us to say or do. But He will never leave us alone. When He commissioned His followers with going, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them, Jesus Himself told them (and subsequently all believers/followers of Christ) in Matthew 28:20 that He would always be with them. Never do any of us have to face the calling He gives us alone. Without Him, relying on our own abilities and worth, we cannot succeed in the calling He gives us. But since He goes with us - and with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) - no calling is beyond us when we rely on Him. HE is our strength, HE will provide us with the words to speak, HE will provide for us and give us the physical strength to keep going when times are tough.
Jesus eternally saves us when we place our faith in Him and His saving work on the cross and resurrection from the grave, not because we are worthy, but because He loves us and desires relationships with us. You can know that you have eternal life because HE is worthy and His promises are sure. Answering the call to teach children, teens, or adults in your local church, or lead that project to reach your community with the good news of Jesus, or to “keep on keeping on” when you face trials in the midst of serving Him, or to submit to the Spirit’s leading you to be a missionary at home or abroad, or sharing the good news of Jesus with your neighbor - all of these are possible by faith and reliance on the One who is worthy and able, and who goes before us and with us - JESUS.