Thoughts to Ponder

Are You Worth Dying For?

I have complained long and hard against self-love and self-esteem. We teach it in the public schools, we even teach it in churches. I have often heard that Jesus taught self-love when He said this:

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' [40] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

The claim is that Jesus is saying you must love yourself and also love others the same way. Is this a minor issue? Was Jesus in fact telling us to love ourselves? Or was He acknowledging the fact that human beings do love themselves?

This might sound like a minor issue, but I am convinced it isn't. I believe that self-love is one of the weapons Satan uses against all mankind. I hear all the time that we can't love God unless we love ourselves. What? Where does that come from? Simple it comes from psychology, that godless 'religion' that elevates man.

Since posting the suicide section of my website about 5 years ago, I have received thousands of e-mails from people contemplating suicide. Many tell me they hate themselves, yet I have yet to find that true in even one case.

I admit most people tell me they hate themselves but it just isn't true. What they hate is their life, or maybe their body image, but they don't hate themselves. Let me show you what God's word says:

Ephes. 5:28-29 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--

Paul is saying that no one ever truly hated themselves. He uses the word body to refer to the person. Many people, me included, hate their bodies. My legs are too short, my hair is too fine, my ears are too big, etc... but those are just physical characteristics, I don't hate myself. The very fact that I hate these physical characteristics shows that I love myself. I hate these things because they don't fit what I want my body to be.

Those people who are contemplating suicide are covered by what Paul says. Ask them what they had to eat last night, or ask them what they like to eat. They will have an answer, because eating is something that we all do for ourselves. Not one person has ever told me they wanted to die so that they could suffer for all eternity. Now if they truly hated themselves wouldn't it be logical for them to want to suffer as punishment? What they all have in common is that they want the suffering to stop. They want to end their life because they hate what is happening in this life and one way or another, whether it is the thought that there is no afterlife and they will just cease to exist, or the thought that the next life will be better, it is always about getting away from what they don't like in this life. It is precisely because they care about themselves that they want to end their life.

I have seen an increase of suicides and suicide attempts and people contemplating suicide over the past 5 years. I believe that Satan knows his time is short and he has stepped up these types of attacks.

We help him by teaching self-love (self-esteem). We tell people that life is about being happy, so of course when they aren't happy they think life isn't worth living any longer. It is just a short step from thinking life isn't worth living to, ending your life. We even go so far as to tell people that to truly love God they have to first love themselves, and in the process we do Satan's work for him.

I am not against a healthy self image or self-worth, but we take it way too far. This brings me to the title of this article. A couple of weeks ago I was driving past a church and on their sign outside was this: Are you worth dying for? God thought so!

Sounds nice and gives you a warm feeling in your heart. Well it shouldn't! Many things that we claim are way off base and do more harm to people spiritually than they do good. The thought that God thought we were worth dying for makes us feel good, but is it biblical? NO!

Let me quote a couple things from God's word:

Genesis 6:5-7 The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. [6] The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. [7] So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them."

Does that sound like we were worth dying for? God had already planned out our salvation before He created us, and what Adam did and what his children did was not a surprise to God. God uses human language to show us things that we could not otherwise understand, so He tells us that He was grieved by the evil in the world and that He was grieved that He created us. But don't take that to mean that God was surprised or thought He had made a mistake, He is just showing us how bad we are and how badly He hates our sin. But don't miss the point, He didn't look down and see how much we were worth!

God planned out our salvation before creating us, yet already knowing how evil we would be. This says volumes about Him, not us, at least not in a good way about us. God did not send Jesus to die for us because of us, but rather because of Him. Not because we were worth it, but rather because of who He is and His love for the unlovable!

What difference does any of this make? After all if believing they were worth dying for brings people to a knowledge of God, isn't that a good thing? Well the problem is I don't believe it will bring people to a saving knowledge of God but rather stand in their way.

I am often asked by people how I can love God so much. They claim to want to love Him, but they just have some problems with it. Often it comes down to the idea that God hasn't give them some of the things they believe they deserve. My answer is simple; first I quote this passage:

Luke 7:36-47 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. [37] When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, [38] and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
[39] When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner."
[40] Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
[41] "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. [42] Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" [43] Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said. [44] Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. [45] You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. [46] You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. [47] Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

I then tell them that I hold no illusions about myself, that I was ever a good person, that I ever deserved anything from God other than condemnation and eternal punishment. I look back on my life and it brings tears to my eyes. I feel much like Paul did when he said he was chief among sinners. I have self-loathing over my sins. Does this self-loathing mean I can't truly love God? No, what it does is it shows me just how much He loves me, to die in my place, to forgive me when I deserved only death and suffering. How can I not love Him when I have such strong evidence of how much He has done for me?

If I thought I deserved His love, well then His love wouldn't mean as much to me, because after all I deserve it. I only know what love is because He first loved me. My heart bursts with joy at the thought that God loved a wretch such as me so much that He was willing to die in my place and to give me eternal life.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

When we think we deserve or are worth God's love, we end up belittling sin. We can read the above passage and sign that God though we were worth dying for even while we were still sinners, but we miss the point. We miss the idea that sinners are worthless, they are unlovable. Our self-worth gets in the way of understanding God's love for us.

We know that God chose Israel, not because of who they were but again because of who He was.

Ezekiel 20:8-14 " 'But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; they did not get rid of the vile images they had set their eyes on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in Egypt. [9] But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations they lived among and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites by bringing them out of Egypt. [10] Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the desert. [11] I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. [12] Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy.
    [13] " 'Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws--although the man who obeys them will live by them--and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the desert. [14] But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.

Did God protect Israel because of their worth? No, He protected them for the sake of His name. He loved them despite their rebelliousness, not because they were worth more than any other nation. He used and still uses Israel as a way to show the world that we are unworthy of His love, yet He still loves us. Were we worth dying for? No, but praise God He loved us anyway and sent His holy Son to die for His unholy, undeserving, worthless, rebellious, sinful creation!

I am pretty sure someone will send me this passage, so let me address it here:

Luke 12:4-7 "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. [5] But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. [6] Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. [7] Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Yes Jesus told us that we are worth more than many sparrows, but who was He speaking to? He was speaking to believers. This is much different than saying that before we were redeemed we were worth something. In fact just keep reading and you will see this:

Luke 12:8-9 "I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. [9] But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God."

My point is that if we are worth so much why would Jesus deny us before His Father? Our worth comes from God and our faith in Jesus Christ, not ourselves.

E-Mail Ralph

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February 2008