What’s Your Net Worth?
Author: Stephanie Bennett
What’s Your Net Worth?
By Stephanie Bennett
It has been said that life is more than the sum of one’s possessions, . . . and oh,
how true a statement it is! Whether our lives revolve around merely making a living,
storing up riches for a rainy day, or our entire existence is centered on the desire
to accumulate wealth, the outcome remains the same, it is empty, and
you just can't take it with you!
For some though, the impact of this age-old wisdom is not as obvious as it is to others, and the pursuit of wealth rages on. For these, the transience and meaninglessness of money is not as apparent. Sometimes, a large bank account is even spiritualized, perceived as a measure and sign of God’s blessing. Unfortunately it is no longer safe to say that disciples of Jesus Christ know that the pursuit of money is a vain pursuit, or that the lifestyle of attaining a huge net worth is illusionary, at very best.
There are many however, who do not make idols out of earthly riches. A large bank account is not wrong, nor is it an immediate sign of selfishness. Countless saints who have learned what it means to let go of the pursuit of financial gain, and instead seek God's Kingdom first, enjoy a greater measure of the true riches of Christ. Some of these same folks may even feel sorry for those in the world, or those with minds set on the things of this earth. For others still, it may even be tempting to demean those who are so externally oriented, knowing so much better that true life is more than one’s financial net work, or the quality and sum of one’s possessions.
This essay, however, has little to do with money. It is another, larger question that begs to be asked.
Are we not equally susceptible to the same human frailty when we base our worth on our own outward actions? When our sense of ‘worth’ or fulfillment is derived from how well we perform at the job, how gifted or talented we are in the church, our outward appearance, or in fact, ANY thing other than Jesus Christ Himself, we are headed for the choppy, stormy seas of discontent. When we look to any outward form to define us, not only is our theology off, but also is our spiritual equilibrium. In fact, without a deep and abiding knowledge of the true TREASURE that is Jesus Christ Himself, we will stumble and falter throughout our entire walk with Him.
Depending on outward signs of self worth is an easy trap into which we fall, but measuring ourselves by performance and the perception of others is even worse. Quite often this false measuring rod is cloaked in serving God. What? What, you say? How can “serving Him,” or charitable deeds be anything but good? Sometimes it’s measuring our success by ‘how many people we evangelize,’ or ‘how many hungry people we fed,” but no matter the substitute, human beings are prone to look to what we can “do,” rather than who we “are” as the way to define ourselves, and hence, our sense of self worth is immediately skewed.
How can this insidious trait slip under the door of our lives so easily?
How? It’s easy. It is simply human nature. Since eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil we are prone to pursue the “good” things instead of pursuing God. In fact, we pursue the ‘good’ at the risk of missing the “best.” And what is “the best?” It is Jesus Christ, - Himself! Yes, He is the best!
Friends, you and I were created for fellowship. . . fellowship with the One who made us, our Creator, Father. He is the Spirit of Truth, the ALMIGHTY GOD! We were made in His IMAGE and LIKENESS, and our sense of identity only becomes secure as we find ourselves ‘in Him.’
Now, some savvy readers may be already quoting the wonderful portion of scripture in Ephesians1 stating that we are “created for good works in Christ,” but can we have another look at that passage within the context. It says, “We are HIS workmanship, created for good works IN CHRIST.” What are those works? They are “God’s works.”
A more careful look shows that the “work” is God’s work.
If we are in Christ, good works will flow from us, naturally! When seen this way, the scripture verse is a far cry from being a proof text to make our life’s thrust one of pursuit of good works. We are to be pursuers of God, seekers, -- first of the Kingdom of God… and then all else will be added.2 That ‘all else’ includes ‘good works.’
So, why all this fuss about good works? Good works are good, are they not? Of course they are, but the pursuit of them impedes the establishing of our worth in God. He does not love you because of the work He can ‘get out of you.’ You were not born to be a religious workhorse. So much striving, burnout and extraneous “stuff” that goes on in the name of Jesus Christ simply does not reflect God’s Glory, nor does it produce the sweet smelling savor of His righteousness.
When Jesus was teaching the crowds someone spoke to him about being “good.” He replied, “No one is good but God alone.” Jesus did not place much earthly value on what is “good.” Why? Because He’s after something higher than good or evil… He’s after LIFE! Recall the old adage, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions?’ In the light of his teaching, that axiom makes much sense.
The truth is, Christianity was never about “being good,” or obeying the Law. Morality has taken center stage for many centuries with believers desperately trying to do something that has already been accomplished, pleasing God. Jesus did it. He accomplished it. It is done. He alone pleases God, and it is through Him that the way is provided for us to regain fellowship with our Maker.
If He is our only hope of pleasing God, why don’t we spend more time dwelling richly ‘in Him,’ and allow His life to flow through us, instead allowing of giving preeminence to the huge sense of self that often comes through our humanness instead? Believers are busy, --Busy trying to prove our worth in God by the measure of charitable deeds and works of service. It is as if we have totally lost our comprehension of the fact that it is Jesus Christ alone who pleases God, thus it is Christ in us, that is our hope of glory.3 Friends, sit down with this statement for a while and ponder. It is Christ, Christ in you, -- Jesus Christ -- that is your only hope of pleasing God. We spend time running here and there tying to “worthy “ activities, and while the intentions may be good, they are not enough to please God. Only Jesus Christ pleases God.
Do you find this difficult to believe? Look at Jesus. His example is quite telling. Jesus often walked past throngs of needy people with His eye on just one. Why? Because He was after something higher, deeper, and more important than just fulfilling earthly needs. He was here to reveal the will of the Father and provide a way to bridge the gap between God and man ever since the Fall of Adam. Jesus made this abundantly clear when He said, “I am the way, the Truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.”4
This is not always easy to understand because most of us have been taught that “holiness” and “works” are synonymous. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate what we have been taught. Perhaps it is time to read the Bible more extensively yourself, and ask the Lord, by His Spirit, to reveal the truth about amazing grace and provision in Christ. Paul writes extensively to the young churches in Asia Minor about what it means to be in Christ. The book of Galatians is a very good place to start.
Problems of poor self-esteem will dissipate like dew in the morning sun, but only as we learn to turn our face toward the SON, finding our identity solely in Him. If we do not recognize that it is only in Christ that we find our worth, how are we better off than those who set up bank accounts and place all their trust and self-esteem in how much they can fill those accounts? The Lord Jesus Christ is our only true security. In Him we are secure.
In Him we are stable and balanced.
In Him, we have true peace.
What joy when the reality of this sets in. As we cling only to Him and define ourselves by who God says we are our sense of security and self worth never has to be shaken. So, the next time you think about your net worth, remember, it really has nothing to do with your bank account, . . . or your performance.
It is Christ, in you…. Our only TRUE HOPE of glory!
Stephanie welcomes your correspondence, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.