Respect & Self-worth
We are called to honor everyone (I Peter 2:17) yet judge who deserves greater amounts of it (Romans 13:7). This can sometimes lead to low self-worth; but, if we acknowledge all are useless without God (Romans 3:23), it becomes easier to see how much God values us, by paying the ultimate sacrifice (John 3:16). God promises us the ultimate value by being one with Him (Ephesians 5:31-32; Philippians 4:13), and by having faith in this, we will gain the confidence of self-worth (Romans 4:20-21).
The majority of Christians believe in honoring everyone, respecting based on what is owed, and that self-worth is based on faith.
There are many words used to describe respect and honor, and it’s important to note that they are not the same concept (Romans 13:7):
- Honor from Fear [phobon]–an acknowledgment of value as a threat (I Peter 3:14; John 7:13; II Corinthians 5:11)
- Honor from Respect [timēn; kab·bêḏ]–an acknowledgment of value from logic, similar to pricing an object (I Corinthians 6:20; Matthew 27:9; Exodus 20:12; Matthew 15:4)
- Honor from Knowing [eidenai]–an acknowledgment of value from knowing someone; appreciation (I Thessalonians 5:12; Luke 22:34)
- Value/Worth [ōphelimos, diapherete]–how much someone is willing to pay for something or someone, in money, time, pain, etc. (I Timothy 4:8; Matthew 6:26; Romans 3:1)
Self-worth starts by acknowledging our uselessness.
It might seem counterintuitive to gain self-worth by thinking how we are worthless, yet a lie can never be more powerful than the truth (John 8:32). We are worthless without God (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 25:30) because no one is righteous (Romans 3:11). Because God doesn’t sin, His worth is infinitely greater than anyone (Romans 3:23). God can do anything and does not need anything from us (Acts 17:25). No matter what we do, we will die without God, no better than animals (Ecclesiastes 3:19). Acknowledging our own uselessness also helps in recognizing that all other people’s opinions are useless, too, compared to God (Romans 3:23).
Self-worth is based in God’s promises of worth.
Worth is about how much someone is willing to pay or sacrifice for something, such as in money, pain, or time (I Timothy 4:8). The reason why believers are highly valued is because God paid the ultimate price (John 3:16), desiring to become one with us (Ephesians 5:31-32). As a member of God’s body (Ephesians 5:30), He promises (II Corinthians 1:20,22) you can do and have literally anything good, the ultimate value (Philippians 4:13; Matthew 21:22). Be careful that the promise you believe is coming is actually from God and not yourself. God does not promise anything specific in our lives, such as a set amount of money, a spouse, or the respect of those around us. God also only gives us things in His character (John 16:24), not things to fulfill our passions (James 4:3). Some things that He does promise us are joy, peace (Romans 14:17), and a pre-ordained purpose (Ephesians 2:10).
Feeling self-worth comes from faith in God’s promises.
If self-worth is based in God’s promises of worth, then believing in faith you will receive these promises is the only path to feeling self-worth (Romans 4:20-21). If you are confident that what you’re asking for is a promise of God, yet you do not have it yet, either grow your faith (Matthew 21:22) or understand that some promises are only fulfilled after death (Hebrews 11:13).
Characteristics of Honor
Honor some more than others.
Although we must respect everyone’s inherent life, how much we respect them is up to the individual (I Thessalonians 5:12). Although our objective value is judged by God alone (James 4:11-12), an individual judges for himself how much respect himself (Romans 12:3) and other people are owed (Romans 13:7).
Types of Honor
Honor from Respect
Respecting someone is weighing how much value they have, either for others or for yourself (I Corinthians 6:20; Matthew 27:9). People tend to honor someone more the more value they can give to them (Acts 20:35). This allows each person to weight how much they owe in value to each other (Romans 13:7).
Honor from Fear
To start one’s relationship with God, you must fear Him (Proverbs 1:7). We must show honor to the Being who can kill our soul (Matthew 10:28), understanding that our own salvation is at risk if we are willfully disobedient (Philippians 2:12). Yet, as we progress in faith, we’ll realize that perfect love removes this fear of punishment due to sin (I John 4:18).
Honor from Knowing
This honor comes from the heart and emotions (Matthew 15:8). More than understanding the logic of comparing value, this honor is about how another makes us feel (I Thessalonians 5:12).
Is self-worth about loving oneself?
Although we should love ourselves because God loves us (John 3:16), love is desiring that a life should thrive, even while believing the value is weak (I Peter 3:7). Self-worth, rather, is believing one’s value is strong enough (II Thessalonians 1:11).
Aren’t those who have more possessions worth more?
Sometimes we think we are worth more if we have more money, but we can’t take anything with us when we die (I Timothy 6:7; Psalms 49:17).
Is self-worth about how much we do?
Although God values all life equally (Galatians 3:28), He values the works of some as greater than others (Luke 19:17-19). Although each spiritual gift is indispensable (I Corinthians 12:22), God gives some people “higher” spiritual gifts, and each gift has a certain rank (I Corinthians 12:28-29,30-31). While some people’s works are greater than others, we cannot think that we are worth less because we do less, because everything that we do is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8), leaving no grounds for boasting (Ephesians 2:9).
Should we care about what others think about our worth?
In life, we tend to think that self-worth is based on what others think of us (Galatians 1:10). For example, we believe our wages are set by our employer, but they actually are set by God (Colossians 3:23). One employer may believe we’re worth $10/hr, while another believes we’re worth $100/hr. Only God’s opinions of us matter, for He is our only Judge (James 4:12). If others do not value you, remember their opinion means nothing compared to the infinite glory of God (Romans 3:23).
How can I honor evil parents (Exodus 20:12)?
Value the life your parents gave you and all the good they do, and don’t revile them, despite their sin (Matthew 15:4). At the same time, honor is not fully yes or fully no but is earned (Romans 13:7). Honor the good that they did (Matthew 15:4), and hate the evil they still do (Luke 14:26). The best way to honor evil parents is to avoid them and do God’s will (Matthew 8:21-22).