In what do we find our worth?
In other words, how do we define ourselves?
Do we define ourselves by our deeds and accomplishments? Do we define ourselves by our families? Our jobs? Our churches? Our words? Our God? Our character? Our vision? Our successes? Our failures? How do we define ourselves? What is that gives us a feeling of worth and of value?
Emotions are indicators–feelings are symptoms. If we learn to read our emotions and our feelings, we will be led to understand our thoughts. So…with an inquiring mind, follow your feelings with me for a moment and let us discover what it is that we truly think….
Ask why. Why is that you feel as you have done well when you have finished a job? Why is it that you feel discouraged and downcast at the end of the day, even when you have worked hard and actually accomplished something? Why?
Think for a moment, follow the trail of your feelings, tracing them back to the law of God.
Our Lord tells us that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. Thus we learn that those desires which are the most important to us will be that which leads us to feel concern and sorrow when these are threatened, or joy and confidence when these are fulfilled.
Is it our dearest pleasure to delight in the ways of righteousness, rejoicing when truth is done, God is honored, and his law of holiness upheld? Or is there something else, some other desire, which leaves us secretly–or not so secretly–unsatisfied with the place and times given us by the Lord of glory?
If I may give an example, follow this story with me: once upon a time, a young princess worked hard every day at learning the laws of the kingdom and studying how to apply them in various cases relating to everyday life and justice, as well as about the wars that they heard rumors of round and about them. Meantime, she also had other duties upon which to attend–not least of which was her responsibility to oversee the kitchen garden and the supply of food for the palace. Day after day, she would work hard at her tasks, but every evening she went to bed feeling unsatisfied, weary, and empty of joy. She felt as if she was useless and profitless to the kingdom, wanting to do more and better things for her people, but frustrated and apparently unable to do so.
Why did she feel this way, we may ask? We see that she was doing valuable service and would one day make a fine lady, ready and able to govern her family and her people.
Though working hard, she was unsatisfied with the place and with the tasks God had given her. Once, when she dared to complain to a friend, her friend, with a little surprise, pointedly asked her, “What would make you feel as if you were doing enough?” She blushed and had no answer, for she could see that it was from her own discontent that her sorrow came. She was placing her worth in her deeds, instead of asking God to bless the work of her hands and then doing each day’s tasks for his glory alone. She was secretly viewing herself as an utter failure unless she were able to do more than that day’s duties–because she defined herself by what she did.
Thus, we can see that she was practicing a form of works-righteousness, though her tongue denied it. Her constant dissatisfaction was because her heart was bent on trying to prove that she was good enough to be a princess, instead of walking in obedience to God, trusting that each hour brought exactly what God had ordained–and that he put her exactly where she was, day by day, not so that she could prove that she was good enough, but so that she could walk in justice, mercy, and praise towards God.
This is just one example. There are many, many others.
One person defines himself by his family, pitting the reputation of his family’s name against the command of God, suffering justice to be trampled because his brother’s name is dearer to him than the name of God. Blood relationship is more to be esteemed in his eyes than truth. He is secretly unsettled, on edge, wary, uncomfortable, stooping to underhanded dealings to preserve his reputation as a God-fearing man.
Another defines herself by her successes in life–until they are swept from her by the hand of providence. At this time, she begins to define herself by her failures, cutting herself off from hope, counting herself too miserable to ever obey God and content herself in praising him, thus dismissing his almighty power as insufficient for her.
What shall we find when we follow our feelings, in order to see from what source they spring? Surely we shall often be surprised at the darkness and the pride that lurks in the hearts of even the most faithful saint–yes, even of our own selves. To discover your treasure, to find out what it is that you are most unwilling to give up, to uncover the causes of your reactions to life, follow the trail left by your emotions, etched on your heart. With the lamp of Scripture, by the light of the law of God, search your soul.
You will find out what you truly think.
You will see who you truly are.