On our own or Jesus alone?

In the era of self-help and self-idolizing viewpoints telling us to “live our truth” because “we are enough and we are worthy,” where does that teaching and thinking live in the Word of God?

Short answer: it doesn’t.

We tend to put the worldly perspective and biblical perspective in the same room of thought by turning it into “Jesus died for us because we were worth it.” But, that’s not entirely biblically true.

First, I want to remind you that you are so deeply loved by our Lord and Savior, and he desires a personal relationship with you. So, why would his death have not been for our innate value and worth to him?

Our Lord alone is worthy of all praise and we desperately need His perfection and His grace. Jesus told the Pharisees in Mark 2:17, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Look in Romans 5 where it says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly…But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v. 6, 8). Do you see what that says? He died for the UNGODLY, not the worthy. Jesus died for us not because we were worth it, but despite our unworthiness. Now that is love that sends shivers down my spine.

The world tells us that we alone are enough – our own hearts, our own minds, our own abilities. Yet, Paul says in Romans 3:13, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” We, as those who have fallen short, as all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), need Jesus. Our human nature is sinful and we must rely on the redeeming work of our Lord, not on ourselves. God has never failed and never will, and that is something we can truly depend on, day after day.

I want us to take a look at the cross. What does it represent? John Piper (desiringgod.org) says this of the cross: it represents the sin of the world (my sin and your sin), it represents not our value but the magnitude of Christ’s sufferings, it represents the immeasurable greatness of grace, and it represents the new creation that God has brought into being. Christ died not as a response to our innate value, but to create Spirit-wrought value in us.

I was in an abusive relationship as a teenager, and I so badly wanted this person to treat me like I was “worth it.” But this person was a sinful person too, because we all fall short. I sought my worth in someone who was just as broken as I was instead of our perfect and loving Savior who died for me despite my sinfulness. Looking for our worth in things, people, and ourselves will fail us time and time again. With Jesus, we don’t have to feel “worth it” because he desires a relationship with us regardless of where we are and what we have done and our lack of perfection. He wants our lives and our love, not because he needs it, but rather because he wants us to have the best possible gift we could ever receive – himself.

When we start believing the world’s lie that we are worthy and we alone are enough in ourselves, we completely take Jesus of out of the picture. That view is harmful to us because it tells us that we don’t really need our Savior. Our worth is not measured by societal or worldly standards. We have worth because God is our Creator, but we are not worthy of his mercy, and we never will be. That’s the beauty of the Gospel – He died for us anyway.

Jesus wants us to cast our anxieties on him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:8). He cares for you. And that is where our worth lies. Not in things, not in people, not in the world’s eyes, and never in ourselves. Our worth lies in Jesus. He, and he alone, is enough, and because of his sacrifice for us, he is all we will ever need.

We should now rest in this fact: It is not a matter of if we are enough, but if we trust that Christ is enough.

– Kayley