I love when Andy blogs, because it always gives me something to think about and over the years has inspired a few of my own blog posts. In this post, he wrote about a way in which students at an elementary school are being taught their worth.
It reminded me of another conversation I’d had recently with my friend Yaakov about a difference in theology between Christians and Jews.
We were talking about God’s expectations, and whether or not humans can fulfill them or do them perfectly. I said that I didn’t think we could because even if we even boil everything down to “love God, love your neighbor,” I know that we can always do that 100%. I know I certainly don’t always act loving, even though I know that I want to be loving. So if the expectation is to do it perfectly all the time, we can’t meet that. If the expectation is to try our best and do better when we fail, then I think that is something we can meet.
I’d been thinking about it due to reading Falling Upward, which has helped me look at and learn from painful events and failure and see how to turn them into something positive.
I mentioned that I personally have a hard time admitting my own failings and this surprised him; he tended to think that I am pretty self-critical.
He brought up Proverbs 24:16:
for though [the righteous] fall seven times, they will rise again
He explained that a Jewish perspective on this is that a righteous person is not one who gets it right the first time, but rather, someone who fails and recovers and grows.
It’s such a different perspective than what we have in Christianity where we hear over and over that we are sinners and God can barely stand to look at us. That doesn’t make a person understand their value and worth and how much they are loved by God. It doesn’t make them feel as if they are somebody for whom God could possibly have a purpose.
While I know there could be some criticism about teaching kids this because people will say they will become arrogant, isn’t it better to inspire and encourage than to tear down and make people feel worthless?
Failure can still be taught and understood and learned from but by starting from a point of worth and love it can make people be able to be and accomplish more and even not be afraid if trying
What if we told ourselves this?
What if we actually believed in our worth?
I’m afraid too often we don’t, we are stuck in a death to sinners mindset instead of a resurrection mindset. We spend an inordinate amount of time feeling so badly about ourselves that it’s hard to really understand and accept how God sees us.
I used these verses out of context a few weeks ago in my “Never Good Enough” post and I’m going to use them again here.
“I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”
And we can also look at everyone’s favorite billboard and sporting events verse, too:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
Or 1 John 3:1:
“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”
If those kids in that elementary school can understand their worth, so can you.
You are somebody and God loves you. If God believes it about you, maybe you should believe it too.
And if you need a visual explanation, watch this: