We all know it’s wrong to condemn other people. But did you know it’s just as wrong to condemn yourself, if you are a believer in Jesus?
How do I know? The Bible says “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). This means that if you are a genuine disciple of Jesus who has entrusted your life and your soul to Him, then–flawed as you still are, along with the rest of us–you are no longer under condemnation. To believe otherwise is inappropriate.
As a teenager, I continually condemned and trash-talked myself. I just didn’t understand God’s grace. It didn’t help when the featured speaker at a youth rally gave a talk entitled: “Slightly soiled, greatly reduced in value.” His point was that just as department store clothing is less valuable when it gets soiled—even just a bit—so with teenagers. We had better behave ourselves or we lose value with God.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our sinfulness does not make us less valuable to God. How do we know? Because “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:9).
A personal experience helped me understand that. I used to wear contact lenses and had to be careful, when taking them out of my eyes, not to drop them. Those nearly invisible slivers of plastic could be hard to find. One night I was tired and careless when removing my contacts. One of them bounced off the sink and—oh no!—into the cat litter box. So what did I do? Condemn it as filthy and go buy another one?
Tired as I was, I searched through that loaded litter box (I hadn’t emptied it that day) until I found my little lost treasure.
Was it dirty? More than I can tell you in print. Yet it was just as precious as the one still saved in my eye. Lost, filthy, but every bit as valuable. That’s why I went through so much trouble to save it.
Lovability is not a human quality
Something else about our sins—they don’t make us less lovable. Did you know this? Lovability is a quality in God’s eyes, not a quality of human character or personality. We may infer this from both John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.” “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16).
The world teaches something quite different about lovability. You are lovable if you are cute, smart, rich, slim, powerful or popular. Hollywood has even quantified this. Do you know what your “Q Score” is?
“The Q Score is a way to measure the familiarity and appeal of a brand, company, celebrity, cartoon character or television show. The higher the Q Score, the more well-known and well thought of the item or person being scored is.”* Their actual numbers are a closely guarded trade secret.
There’s TV Q, Sports Q, and believe it or not, even Dead Q! “Dead Q measures the current familiarity and appeal of deceased personalities in a variety of categories to determine current targeted audience attraction.”
I have a neighbor across the street seven houses down who was a finalist in the “America’s Got Talent” TV program. I hear he does a pretty good Elvis Presley. Given the number and success of his impersonators, it’s fair to guess that Elvis enjoys a really high “Dead Q” rating. The next time I see my neighbor I’ll ask if he knows where Elvis ranks among the 150 dead legends tracked by Q. Maybe he’s even number one! I’ll bet that would make him want to roll over in his grave, if he knew he was still so lovable.
Obviously the world’s concept of lovability doesn’t do much for the people it celebrates.
I’m glad things are different with God, who doesn’t worship dead memories but lavishes His love upon everyone alive, cute or otherwise. Regarding lovability, let’s take our cue from Him. Remember, there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves more lovable than we already are, since lovability is not a quality of human character but a quality of God’s character of love.
This gets very personal with God. Not only does He love the mass of this world’s unlovely humanity, but He loves little old me and you. How do I know? On the cross, Jesus “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).
God has a big stake in us, personally. Think of what He has invested—the life of His precious Son! Out of that sacrifice, we receive eternal life. But what does God get? He gets us!
The apostle Paul prayed that God’s people would understand “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). Salvation is more than God feeling sorry for sinners, as you might feel pity for a scraggly kitten in the snow, so you bring it in for warm milk. No, God delights in us for His own sake! We really are that special to Him!
One recent Christmas season my wife and I got a card from a local dentist who played as a linebacker on the 1997 national champion college football team, the Nebraska Huskers. Darlene babysat his little baby until she graduated into toddler care.
Travis and his wife simply delight in their little girl. Every Tuesday afternoon he closes down his dental office and takes little Emmy on a field trip. Just the two of them. He always would report the next morning what they did. “We went to the museum yesterday!”
Baby Emmy couldn’t walk, so he carried her on their adventures. When she dirtied her diaper, he didn’t scold her. He just got her cleaned up and they moved on. This little baby with her soiled diapers was immeasurably more valuable to him than his national champion ring.
Emmy has no idea that her dad became famous in town, or anything about a Q Score. Nor does she have any idea how incredibly precious she is.
But she’s learning.
We can be learning too, and the grace-based truth of heaven’s sanctuary can help us understand.
*Article “Q Score” in Wikipedia–the Free Encyclopedia.
This article was extracted from Martin Weber’s book, God Was There: true stories of a police chaplain (Pacific Press, 2009).
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net.