I’m a car guy and love watching the Barrett-Jackson auctions: “The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions.” Sometimes I dream of having the cash to drop on a mint original, or freshly resto-modded, 1969 L78 ss396 Chevelle. (Feel free to pause and google that, you won’t regret it.) I watch well-funded buyers make ever-growing bids on cars I would never buy and then pass on another that is remarkable (to me) and priced-to-sell. I guess they just don’t think they’re worth it. Worth is a funny thing: It changes over time and even the money we carry in our wallets can gain and lose value. Worth is a subjective concept.
That’s how worth works. Everything is worth what someone will pay for it. John the Baptist ascribed great worth to the coming Messiah (Jesus), and by comparison saw little worth in himself.
Mark 1:7-8 He was preaching: “Someone more powerful than I will come after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of His sandals. I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Emphasis added)
In the Apostle John’s Gospel, John the Baptist says, “He [Jesus] must increase, and I must decrease.” The level to which we value Jesus must increase and our own self-founded-worth must decrease.
Since I was a kid I have heard so much about self-esteem and self-worth, and while I understand the concept, as a Christian I have no desire to seek worth inside myself. I always come up lacking when I try to find lasting worth in me—I just keep letting myself down. I’m the worst. John the Baptist had a large following and many who called him “Rabbi.” It might seem that he was in a good position to find self-worth. But he was very well aware of his role as the forerunner of Jesus so he had no desire to usurp the true Messiah. He knew that the one who would come after him was the one with the real power, worth and value. He knew Jesus would never let us down.
I believe denying self, also means denying self-worth. At our worst we are damnable sinners, and even our best efforts only produce pride and thus, sin. We need the one who would come after John. We need his love and forgiveness. We need the worth that is found in Him. 1 Corinthians says he values us greatly and paid a high price for us. So we don’t find worth in ourselves and we don’t seek it from others.
Although I will never understand why, Jesus loved me enough to give it all for me. It’s as though you and I were there on the auction block and everyone else was passing, but Jesus stepped right up and paid everything. That’s terrible negotiating skills and it seems like he got a terrible deal, but he sees value in us. So even though I’m not worthy, I am greatly valued, and so are you.