The third paragraph of this post is a short but very, very profound sentence. It reads: “Our worth is derived.” But without some preparation, you won’t be overly impressed with it.
The sentence is, on the one hand, a flat statement of limitation. And on the other, it is a wild assertion of immortality. In four words, the sentence names the central terror of the human situation while simultaneously naming the unique human role in creation. Therefore, (here is another bold statement) if you understand this sentence, you understand the world. But there is a catch. You can’t understand the sentence on your own. There is a sort of built-in blindness associated with the sentence so that even people that write posts about it don’t get it. The reason for this blindness is because the sentence is traumatizing. So traumatic, that our hearts dissociate – lest the terror undoes us. Lest the beauty calls us out. Well, I prepared you as well as I can. Here is the sentence:
Our worth is derived.
Not impressed with the profundity yet? Give me a little attention for five more paragraphs. Let’s see if we can get there.
First, the sentence means that you, as a being, are incomplete. Ponder that for a moment. You have a vital need (to be valued) which you cannot make it happen on your own. That which you need the most, you are powerless to produce. A glance at your life will show a mad scramble to obtain this central sense of worth. You try to feel secure in your bank cards, your resume or your skills or what you do for other people. But these things aren’t enough. They don’t last. You don’t last. You cannot manufacture your own worth.
That is the terror of the human situation. The intense drive to make yourself “worth-while.” But then, the impossibility of making it happen. You cannot give yourself “worth.” And you cannot make yourself last a “while. “
Secondly, the sentence affirms your one unique human ability: you are designed to receive worth. You have known this since you were a child. Your affirmation came (or not) from your family. You simply weren’t capable as a child to name and bless yourself. And you still aren’t capable of self- producing a sense of worth. But you are made such that you can receive it. God made you open. He designed you to be able to take in vast quantities of blessing. You are made such that you can receive the ongoing love of God. Although you are limited in what you can produce, you are unlimited in what you can receive. And unlimited in what you can pass on.
Unlimited ability to have the love of God pass through you – that is the unique beauty of the human being. You are a finite being made forever alive as unlimited grace flows through you. For this purpose you were made.
This Christmas, remember that Jesus is God’s pledge of eternal love granted for you. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son.”
Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. In addition to counseling individuals and couples, Roger teaches and leads discussion groups about applying the Bible to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor, holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is married to Jean, and they have seven children.