Sunday, August 14, 2016

Of Great Worth in His Sight

I go to church service first and then a "small group" Sunday School class of about 50 people. The small group consists of women and men who range in age from 40 to 70, with most well over 50.

Thus, most of the women have raised their families and they have time and money to buy beautiful shoes, pay for great hair cuts and flawless manicures, buy nice clothes, etc. They look stylish and put-together, to put it another way.

I, on the other hand, buy thrift store clothes, get my hair cut far too infrequently, and have chipped, thin nails from chronic housework. I feel like a poor servant in comparison, especially when I'm seated next to a women with flawless toenail polish. I try to pull my long skirt over my sandaled feet as far as I can, and wish I'd taken an extra ten minutes to redo my toenail polish.

Sometimes, on my less-than-stellar emotional days, it's enough to make me want to become a hermit and forgo small groups. They're messy after all, compared to sitting in a large church service and then going home. No investment and no risk. Right?

But I know better.

I know when my thoughts need to be held captive, and I'm quicker to lasso them than I ever was before. By the grace of God.

I know that my worth doesn't come from my outward appearance--I know it with my head and my heart. I know that the finely dressed only give the illusion that they're put together. They aren't better off spiritually. The Kingdom of God doesn't care about their $100 outfit. God is not impressed. We're all messy people with messy problems, and stylish clothes and perfect manicures don't change that.

This seems to be limited to women, these silly comparisons on dress and nails and hair. I know it's silly, and yet at first I recoil, feeling less-than for five or ten minutes.

Do you know of a family who drives away from church in a $40,000 new car, bound for a leisurely restaurant and looking forward to the cleaning lady coming on Monday? They don't have it better than you. Really.

Live involves pain for everyone, no matter what they do for a living, no matter what they wear or drive or look forward to doing next. The pain is well hidden for some, but rest assured, pain is universal. The need for compassion and understanding, rather than comparison, is universal.

If it's respect we want, we're wrong if we think it comes from a stylish outfit. Better to be that person who smiles, who welcomes, who listens non-judgmentally, who is not afraid of the messiness that comes with relationship. The second part of the greatest commandment speaks of relationship. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Our humility earns respect as well. Not only do we need to behave compassionately toward others, we also need to seek compassion by sharing our burdens without shame. A rich relationship involves give and take, and we hopefully can be people and will find people who are capable of mature relationship within our churches.

Some groups are more troubled than others. Some are hungry for compassion and spiritual guidance, without being capable of a give and take. We would do well to make sure we have a little of both in our life. People to minister to, and people to minister with.

We are all equal in Christ. Our worth comes from his love for us. We are precious in His sight. That is enough, my friend.  To be precious to Him means we don't need to hide anything. We can live joyful and free. Free from the confines of social class. Free from the pain of the past. Free from shame.

If we perhaps already have respect and it's beauty we desire, we need to know there's a beauty that far outshines any outward feature. No matter how plain our face or form, it all transforms to beauty if we're gentle with a quiet spirit, which carries great weight in the Lord's sight. This is a rare kind of beauty. A rare beauty we should all covet.

1 Peter 3:4
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

Do you ever feel less-than? What triggers it and how do you counter your distorted thoughts? Do you recognize them as distorted?